Move On Up: Kingsley Napley

A strong HR policy and engagement strategy has paid dividends for staff retention at the London firm

Eve Giles
Eve Giles

London firm Kingsley Napley is a year into its 2011-2014 business plan, which focuses heavily on HR and staff retention.

The firm is starting out from a strong base. Over the past six years, it has promoted 13 lawyers into the partnership, hired 17 and lost 13, producing a net gain of 17 partners since 2006-07.

The number of promotions has risen steadily since 2006-07. In that year and the following financial year, the firm promoted property lawyer Liam MacDonnell in January 2007 and corporate and commercial specialist Michelle Harris in May 2007.

Thereafter, promotions have been made predominantly in May. Three partners were made up in May 2008 and another three in May 2010, with one promotion in May 2009, that of criminal lawyer Eve Giles.

May 2011 saw the highest number of promotions in recent years, with four lawyers promoted into the fixed-share equity partnership. The focus was very much on regulatory work, with three of the promotions in this practice area, while the fourth to be made up, Andrew Tingley, is an ­immigration specialist.

Kingsley Napley also promoted three partners to equity partner over the six-year period, including two in May 2011. Figures provided for the 2011 edition of The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report showed the firm holds its equity tightly, with only 10 equity partners in a total partnershp of 38.

All but one of the firm’s lateral hires have been into the fixed-share tier of the partnership, and all but one of the partner departures in the past six years have also been from this layer.

Sideways glance

Kingsley Napley recruited five partners from other firms in both 2007-08 and 2010-11, two in each of 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12, and just one in 2006-07. The majority of the hires have come from small- and medium-sized firms, although Caroline DeLaney joined Kingsley Napley in January this year from CMS Cameron McKenna.

Kingsley Napley has hired several corporate partners from other firms, although Harris was the only internal promotion in this area recently. Family, private client and employment are other practice areas that feature strongly on the laterals list.

Retention of those brought into the partnership recently is reasonably good. Two of those made up in the past six years have left Kingsley Napley. Gareth Kervin left to set up his own firm in 2009, a year after his ­promotion, while Ben Kemp was ­appointed as general counsel to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in November 2011, after being promoted in May that year.

Three lateral hires have also moved on. Emma Ries spent about 18 months at Kingsley Napley before leaving in March 2009 to establish her own practice. Clinical negligence specialist Jock Mackenzie moved to Blake Lapthorn in May this year, ­having been hired by Kingsley Napley in March 2009 from Leigh Day & Co. Private client partner Emma Lampier, hired in January 2007, also left Kingsley Napley in March 2010.

The firm’s current HR strategy was developed in 2011 and is headed by HR director Jemimah O’Connor. O’Connor sits on Kingsley Napley’s executive committee, which the firm believes puts people at the forefront of its management discussions.

Associates on the route to partnership are put on a leadership development scheme, which focuses on leadership skills such as motivation, team building and business development.

The firm has instituted an annual internal survey to assess staff and lawyers’ thoughts on the firm, with the executive team reviewing feedback. This is designed to assess and improve engagement levels, and Kingsley Napley is also trying to ­ensure open lines of communication between all levels of the firm.

The support functions are not ­ignored in the HR strategy, with the firm also seeking to put in place a  management progression plan for support staff.

Promotions and senior hires

Eve Giles, criminal
Criminal specialist Giles was the only lawyer promoted to Kingsley Napley’s partnership in 2009
Andrew Tingley, immigration
Immigration lawyer Tingley was made up in 2011
Melinka Berridge, regulatory
Berridge was one of three regulatory specialists to be promoted in the 2011 round