Howard Kennedy breaks equity bottleneck with partner promotion

Howard Kennedy has admitted a partner to its equity for the first time in three years, with corporate recovery and reconstruction head Vernon Dennis joining the ranks.

Mark Dembovsky
Mark Dembovsky

The move is part of a wider attempt to modernise the West End firm, which brought in Mark Dembovsky as its first non-lawyer chief executive last year (10 January 2011).

Dennis, an insolvency partner, will join the equity partnership on 1 April, becoming the 14th equity partner in a firm with an additional 44 non-equity partners. The last partner to join the equity stepped up in April 2009.

The firm has rolled out a ‘track to partnership’ programme for potential partners and equity partners that involves candidates being identified and mentored by an existing partner.

Once candidates are on the track, they are assessed according to personal and business criteria, with the latter more significant in applications for equity partnership. All mentoring for candidates for both partner levels is currently carried out by an equity partner.

There is no set timescale, with candidates remaining on the track until the firm feels it is the right moment to promote them.

“The foundation of the programme is we’re identifying people who we believe have the potential and who we want to be partner,” Dembovsky commented.

The system has already led to the promotion of Naylah Hamour and Samantha Hook, who were both made up to the non-equity partnership last year (12 September 2011).

Dennis joined the firm from Edwin Coe in 2007 as a partner (12 February 2007).

He said in a statement: “The firm is undergoing some exciting changes and I look forward to playing an active role in its growth and future development.”

Corporate head and management committee member Michael Harris added: “The track to partnership initiative is proving successful in identifying the partners of the future […].  We’re determined to invest in fresh talent and have a number of other fee-earners currently being mentored through the programme, be it to enter equity or partnership.”

Last month Howard Kennedy announced it was in redundancy talks with six non-equity partners in a bid to sustain profits (14 February 2012).