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Despite the trendy name, KSB Law is a firm strongly grounded in English history.
The first mention of the 19-partner firm can be found circa 1792. Then based at Lincoln’s Inn, it only moved earlier this year after centuries of merger and demerger.
Now comfortably ensconced in its new City premises and with the aim of doubling in size by 2009, KSB is evolving into a firm ably equipped to deal with the challenges of the new millennium.
At the helm is Mark Feeney, previously the chief executive of Russell Jones & Walker (RJW) and a former Shoosmiths finance director. He has a clear vision of just what he brings to the firm.
“KSB needed someone who wasn’t so tied to the history of the firm and its partners, but also someone who understood the intricacies of the law,” he says. “My arrival was probably like a breath of fresh air.”
It’s perhaps ironic that as a former RJW head, Feeney has been responsible for the jettisoning of KSB’s personal injury (PI) department since his arrival in September 2002. The firm has also relocated its Hertfordshire branch and revamped its London office, all in the last 12 months.
Feeney sees PI as an area that does not sit too comfortably with the firm’s current direction, a stance not uncommon in today’s uncertain marketplace.
“The legal profession is very fragmented at the moment,” he says. “If mid-range firms set their stall out with a service that’s too broad, sooner or later people, and more importantly clients, won’t know what they stand for anymore and the firm gets squeezed out of the marketplace.”
It is this kind of strategic thinking that has led Feeney to make streamlining KSB a top priority, and is also something he sees as a major attraction for staff.
“We want lawyers who don’t want to work in a faceless monolithic firm, but those who want a say in things and the opportunity to actually contribute to the progression of a firm,” explains Feeney.
KSB decided to close the doors on its PI department in November 2003 and began a redundancy programme the following month. By June it had left the PI market altogether. But despite the cuts, the firm is not averse to broadening its own position within the legal marketplace.
The move to the new St Albans office last weekend (Saturday 14 August), replacing its equally leafy Harpenden branch, is seen as a stepping stone to securing more lucrative work for Hertfordshire County Council, including more land disposal contracts.
“We really want to broaden our scope outside the cost-sensitive restraints of London,” explains Feeney.
The new measures seem to be paying off. KSB’s commercial team has quadrupled in size over the last 12 months and Feeney is looking to recruit one partner per quarter in what he calls the firm’s “engine room”.
The employment division has also swelled its numbers, from one partner to four lawyers (one partner, one associate and two assistants) in just one year. That represents pretty good going for any ambitious mid-sized firm.
Total number of partners
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Main practice areas
Commercial, private client and real estate
Local authorities, breweries, restaurant chains, pubs, insurance companies and overseas companies