Howard KennedyFSI in management limbo as CEO Dembovsky quits

HowardKennedyFSI chief executive Mark Dembovsky has resigned from the firm after two years spent pushing through the merger between Howard Kennedy and Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI).

Mark Dembovsky
Mark Dembovsky

Partners were told of his decision to leave today, with the firm planning to revert to being run by management committee in coming months. Former FSI managing partner Paul Millett will take control of the firm alongside litigation head Craig Emden, a former Howard Kennedy partner.

Legacy Howard Kennedy chief executive Dembovsky has been in charge of the integration strategy for the merged firms since January 2013 and he was the driving force behind the tie up.

He was appointed Howard Kennedy’s first non-lawyer chief executive in 2011 and when the merged firm went live on 31 January 2013 Dembovsky took up the role as HowardKennedyFSI CEO and a chair on the firm’s management committee (31 January 2013).

He outlined a “mission” to tackle longstanding issues at the firm over partner disunity and a lack of communication and was central to the establishment of the £40m practice in the West End.

Dembovsky oversaw a wave of changes at the firm (25 February 2013) – one of his first moves was to invite all non-equity partners to reclassify with self-employed status in a bid to integrate partners into the business (25 March 2013). This led to a key shift a broader HowardKennedyFSI partnership which sent average profit per equity partner (PEP) plummeting to £129,092.

By 2013 the firm had racked up a combined partner total of 70.4 equity partners with a total partnership of 83..8 in 2012, an increase of 220 per cent among the equity.

The new joint managing partners Emden and Millett were on the management integration committee with Dembovsky, made up of Howard Kennedy partners Michael Harris, Emden and Jason Lewis, and FSI partners Julian Hindmarsh and Ashley Reeback and Millett. 

The first set of figures for the combined firm posted revenues of £40.6m, compared to 2011/12 when Howard Kennedy posted a revenue £27.8m and FSI put turnover at £17.6m.

Dembovsky had initially been bought in to Howard Kennedy to replace long-serving senior partner Trevor Newey and bought sweeping change to that firm by overseeing its conversion to LLP status and breaking with tradition to disclose financials for the first time in 2011.