What germinated as an idea at Kirkland & Ellis’ New York City office has spread throughout one of the largest law firm in the U.S.
Kirkland & Ellis associate in New York Brandon Remington — who served in Afghanistan as a platoon commander with the Marines — wanted to develop a network for firm employees who are veterans, both U.S. and non-U.S., their family members and allies to support veteran causes.
With a launch in 2018, the Military Service Group promotes the benefits of hiring veterans at Kirkland & Ellis, creating a network for veterans and family members at the firm, developing pro bono and community engagement opportunities related to veteran needs and assisting recruiting and client development efforts by working with similar groups at law schools and in the business community.
Currently, Kirkland & Ellis reports that there are approximately 100 people in the group throughout the country with the New York and Chicago offices boasting the strongest numbers.
“The idea came from a few of us who were associates and veterans that we speaking to each other at some other events and saying ‘Hey, why don’t we have a get-together?’” Remington said. “The more people we asked about it they said ‘Yes, why haven’t we done that before?’
“It really was grassroots,” he said. “The firm supported us. We found members throughout all the different offices.”
One of the first events that both the New York and Chicago offices put on was a letter and gift drives for veterans during the holiday season. New York supported the state’s Veterans’ Home in St. Albans in Queens — a retirement home made up of 250 male and female veterans between 50 and 100 years old.
Law Clerk Josh Mathew, who served in the Army for more than three years as an infantry platoon leader at Camp Casey in South Korea and at Fort Irwin in California, felt satisfaction from the work they did for the veterans’ home.
“It turned into two hours of Kirkland staff and attorneys just coming up to us and talking about their experiences in the military,” Mathew said. “They were talking about their family members who served. A lot of the conversations captured the selflessness and camaraderie of serving. Also, that families go through the experience together.”
Soon, the Military Service Group increased its volunteering and pro bono work involving critical veteran issues and provide more ways to connect with potential clients, laterals and recruits who are veterans. Remington and Mathew serve as the veterans representatives for summer associate recruiting.
“We’ll be reaching out to schools in the area and meeting with their representatives for veteran groups,” Mathew said.
Remington and Mathew note the group is “decentralized,” allowing for ideas to come from anywhere, from anyone, at any time. They both also appreciate that Kirkland had no hesitations about starting the Military Service Group and let it good works for the community and the firm.
“(Kirkland) will support good ideas from wherever,” Remington said. “I was new to Kirkland when we started this, Josh was new and jumped right in, and that’s OK.”