The Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab successfully completed in excess of 120 projects during the 2019–2020 academic year in collaboration with a wide range of companies, including A.T. Kearney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Accenture, Allstate, Archer Daniels Midland, Baxter, Crate & Barrel, GrubHub, Honeywell, IBM, John Deere, Koch Industries, Kraft Heinz, Meijer, Microsoft, Nike, Pier 1 imports, Schneider National, Schreiber Foods, Sony Electronics, The 3M Company, Ulta Beauty, Verizon and various start-up companies, both on an individual basis and in connection with the Booth School of Business (including both the New Venture Challenge and the Social New Venture Challenge).
Additionally, the Lab engaged several new clients, including Brunswick Corporation, Cushman & Wakefield and Owens Corning.
The Lab continues to enjoy great success due in large part to the interesting projects and high-quality work that draw ambitious students and leading organizations to come together to collaborate on solving cutting-edge legal and business problems. During the past academic year, the Lab worked on many contract drafting projects, several of which involved creating form Master Service Agreements for multinational corporations.
The Lab also conducted legal research and drafted opinions on behalf of two clients involved in ongoing contract disputes. The first such opinion was delivered to the Supreme Court of Korea and addressed issues related to misappropriation of trade secrets, the application of injunctive relief, and choice of law clauses, all under Illinois law. The second opinion was delivered to an arbitration panel and analyzed separate partnership and limited liability company agreements to determine whether a business relationship was terminable at will or only upon the occurrence of specifically numerated events.
The Spring Quarter brought with it clients facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Lab was often tasked with helping its clients navigate the unique legal ramifications of the crisis on their operations. Companies asked for, and the Lab delivered, guidance on emerging workplace safety regulations, privacy concerns germane to the remote work landscape, and rapidly changing guidelines on how and when to safely reopen. Additionally, the Lab conducted substantial research on COVID-19’s implications on force majeure clauses, and reviewed and analyzed numerous force majeure clauses in client contracts .
In addition to the foregoing, the following is a representative sampling of the many projects undertaken by the Lab over the past academic year:
- Drafted a memorandum for a Fortune 100 client synthesizing the ongoing debate over shareholder vs. stakeholder primacy
- Drafted a memorandum for an energy company on various issues relating to eminent domain and adverse possession laws in several Midwestern states
- Drafted a memorandum for a national food delivery platform summarizing the legal landscape of liquor delivery and analyzed the company’s compliance with relevant law
- Drafted a memorandum for a management consulting company on best practices for granting intercompany license agreements, both nationally and internationally
- Drafted a form distribution agreement to be used by a multinational retailer
- Reviewed and commented on, and created quick reference guides to be used by non-lawyers for, a large insurance company’s ERISA various management service contracts and request for proposal form related thereto
- Drafted licensing, consulting, master service, and settlement agreements for various large corporations
- Assisted numerous startup clients with drafting corporate bylaws, employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements, and other documents relating to launching a startup business
Beyond substantive projects, the Lab continued to host its acclaimed Speaker Series program. The Speaker Series provides Lab students with an opportunity to hear from leading practitioners (from both law firms and corporations) on core areas of law (e.g., the fundamentals of a specific type of transaction), topical business-and-law issues, and the real-world concerns critical to young attorneys’ success (e.g., client relations and professional best practices). In addition to many other esteemed practitioners, the following industry leaders participated in the Speaker Series over this past academic year:
- Neil Hirshman, Sean Kramer, Leo Greenberg, Josh Kogan (Kirkland);
- David Bronner (K&L Gates), David Brown and Brian Krob (Nixon Peabody);
- Brendan Heneghan (IBM);
- Eileen Kamerick (Board member of several NYSE listed companies);
- Andrew Boutros (Seyfarth Shaw);
- Forrest Deegan (Abercrombie);
- Stephanie Vogel (National Basketball Association);
- Michael Scodro (Mayer Brown);
- William Ridgeway (Counsel at Skadden, Arps; Former Assistant U.S. Attorney);
In addition, the Lab is hosting the ninth annual Transactional Challenge for rising second-year law students to provide exposure to corporate practice during the first law school summer. The Challenge, which allows students to compete in a series of real-world corporate transactional exercises, is still in the sign-up phase and has generated significant interest. The Challenge also gives participating students an opportunity to network with senior in-house counsel and law firm partners as part of several post-Challenge events.