Howard Kennedy to trim partnership to ‘sustain profitability’

Howard Kennedy has entered into redundancy talks with six non-equity partners in its property department in an effort to reinvigorate the firm’s financial performance.

Mark Dembovsky
Mark Dembovsky

The move is part of an ongoing strategic review of the firm that was kick-started with the appointment of its first non-lawyer chief executive Mark Dembovsky last year (10 January 2011).

Dembovsky succeeded long-standing senior partner Trevor Newey, who retired in March after 39 years at the firm, 19 as senior partner.

The firm’s 13 equity partners agreed that a new chief executive should take steps to ensure the financial stability of the firm. The first step was a conversion to LLP status, a move aimed at encouraging transparency within the firm around it financials.

Until Dembovsky joined, the firm’s non-equity partners were not informed  of its headline figures.

The firm’s property group is the firm’s largest practice and is home to 26 partners. At the end of the 2010-11 year the practice it generated approximately 43 per cent of the firm’s revenues of £29.5m, the equivalent of £12.7m.

Howard Kennedy said steps needed to be taken to ensure sustainable profitability. In a statement, it added: “Certain key areas have been ‘top heavy’ for some time.”

Dembovsky said: “ We have to be commercial about how we run our business. We need to think carefully about how we run our business next year and the year after.”

He continued: “On a personal level I’m extremely sad to be losing some excellent and long-serving lawyers who’ve been part of the fabric of Howard Kennedy.

“We need, however, to build for the future, to inject fresh blood and to focus on strengthening key areas.

“We’re on a journey and we’ll face tough decisions along the way.”