Howard Kennedy partner’s net profits

Howard Kennedy partner Dov Katz has a passion outside the law that has helped his firm make some powerful connections ­within the Jewish community. And the passion? Table tennis.

Howard Kennedy partner Dov Katz has a passion outside the law that has helped his firm make some powerful connections ­within the Jewish community. And the passion? Table tennis.

As a young boy Katz wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a professional table tennis player. He began playing the game at the age of six and, when he was seven, was ­talent-spotted at a local youth club in West Hampstead.

After years of intensive training to build his stamina, Katz reached the top of his game, and at the age of 14 he took bronze in the sport at the Jewish Olympics, also known as the Maccabiah Games.

“I’ve loved table tennis since the moment I started to play the game,” Katz says. “It’s a highly competitive one-on-one sport at the same time as being a fantastic way to ­forget everything.”

While wanting to indulge his passion for the sport, Katz says he knew that in long term there was little financial stability in it.

He also knew early on that he wanted to be a lawyer and when he was a teenager decided that ­academic life would have to come first.
“There are similarities between the sport and the law – you need to have a competitive spirit and the desire to achieve,” he reflects.

After graduating Katz did his traineeship at Fladgate Fielder (now Fladgate) before joining Dechert in 2000. His decision to concentrate on his legal career meant table tennis had to be put on the back-burner.

Then, having set himself up in law, Katz was approached to ­manage the British Jewish Table ­Tennis Team.

“Since then, in my spare time, I’ve organised, ­managed and led teams in Belgium, Italy, the US and Israel,” he says.

In 2004 Katz was named ­Jewish Sportsman of the Year.

Next year he will lead the British team as both manager and player at the European Maccabi Games when they are held in Vienna.

“The reason I’m able to work and be involved in sport simultaneously is that I manage people’s expectations,” says Katz, adding that his legal career is still his top priority.

And Howard Kennedy has ­benefited from Katz’s connections within the Jewish sporting world. The firm has established its own cross-practice Israel group led by Gideon Dabby-Joory to target work spinning out of the specialist sector.

Katz says his involvement with the Jewish table tennis world has given the firm access to a strong network of leading figures in the community.

“Many squad members are very well connected in the business ­community,” explains Katz, adding that team member James ­Sherwood is the son of Goldman Sachs International co-chief ­executive Michael Sherwood.

Howard Kennedy sponsored the national team at the Maccabiah Games in Israel last year, where it took the bronze medal.

Katz adds that, although he will not be ­participating in the ­London Olympics in 2012, he hopes to be on the sidelines, cheering one of his protégés on to success.

The priority for Katz now is to use the contacts he has made in his sporting life to help build his ­following in the law. And, of course, to lead the team to victory in Vienna next year.