Jim Kiernan, a retired partner, played a key role in building the firm’s preeminent international Private Equity Group. He advised on some of Europe’s largest and most innovative transactions, including the Rockefeller Group’s acquisition of a majority interest in Europa Capital, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice’s £1.4 billion sale of Brakes to Bain Capital, and the €3.7 billion acquisition of Rexel by the consortium of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Eurazeo and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity. From 1984 until 2011, Mr. Kiernan acted as Chair of Debevoise’s European Private Equity and European Mergers & Acquisitions Groups.

Mr. Kiernan was ranked as a “leading individual” in private equity buyouts by Chambers UK (2010, 2011 and 2012). He was also recommended in Chambers UK  (2010) which stated that he “wins praise for work on global mandates.” He was also recommended in PLC Which Lawyer?, PLC Cross-border Private Equity Handbook (2010) and as one of the top U.S. lawyers at U.S. law firms in London by Legal 500 UK (2009). Mr. Kiernan was co-editor of The Debevoise & Plimpton European Private Equity Handbook, and has written numerous articles on acquisitions and financings in the U.S. and Europe.

Mr. Kiernan was Managing Partner of our European offices from 2002 until 2011. He received his B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1966, an M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1970, and his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1971. Mr. Kiernan is a member of the New York bar and was a member of the Paris bar from 1984 to 2011.


  • Harvard University, 1966, B.A.
  • Harvard University, 1970, M.P.A.
  • Harvard Law School, 1971, J.D.

Bar Admissions

  • New York