The Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab successfully completed in excess of 100 projects during the 2020–2021 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, 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 new clients, including AMRI Global and several early stage ventures.
The Lab also conducted legal research and drafted a second opinion on behalf of a client embroiled in an ongoing dispute over whether a business relationship was terminable at will or only upon the occurrence of specifically enumerated events. In delivering this opinion, the Lab analyzed underlying partnership and limited liability company agreements, as well as a joint venture agreement, distribution agreement, and supply agreement.
The Lab’s clients continued to face 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, and in several instances, drafted new force majeure clauses to be incorporated into contracts going forward.
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 an international technology company advising on various issues pertaining to ownership and licensing of copyrights with respect to a spinoff corporation
- Drafted a memorandum for an insurance company regarding novel issues presented by the use of artificial intelligence systems in the claims adjustment process
- Drafted a memorandum for an energy company on rights and obligations associated with installation of utilities on properties owned by railroad companies throughout the Midwest
- Drafted a diligence request list and term sheet for a small acquisition by a national retailer
- Drafted terms and conditions for in-store WiFi use for a national retailer
- 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, Dan Lewis, Jaime Madell, Dennis Meyers, Linda Meyers, (Kirkland);
- Brendan Heneghan (IBM);
- Jason Sussman (Pritzker);
- Eileen Kamerick (Board member of several NYSE listed companies);
- Andrew Boutros (Seyfarth Shaw);
- Luis Alvarez (University of Virginia Law School Foundation);
- Chuck Senatore (Devonshire Investors);
- Susie Shin (Zulkie Partners);
- Kai Lo (Amazon);
- Forrest Deegan (Abercrombie);
- Phil Caruso (Kearny);
- Kirby Smith (Wachtell);
- Gaurav Sud (Aon Transaction Solutions);
- William Ridgeway (Counsel at Skadden, Arps; Former Assistant U.S. Attorney)
In addition, the Lab is hosting the tenth 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, concluded on July 9th, 2021, and a winner and finalist have been announced. 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.