Kirkland & Ellis is set to suffer a major departure at the end of the summer following the resignation of London managing partner Jim Learner.

The announcement was made internally yesterday, with Learner outlining his plan to return to the US where he plans to join a currently unnamed private equity firm.

As well as being the driving force behind Kirkland's London base, having been the first resident partner in 1994, Learner is also a key European relationship partner with major client Bain Capital, who he advised last year as the sponsor on the sale of Italian software company Teamsystem to HG Capital.

His other major clients include Apax Partners, Apollo Management and Towerbrook

Kirkland & Ellis is currently ranked in tier two in this year's IFLR1000 UK private equity transactions table and tier one for bank lending sponsor side mandates. Learner himself is mentioned as a leading lawyer.

Further details on the exact departure date and also possible replacements as London managing partner are yet to be announced.