Howard Kennedy to cut up to six property partners in restructuring

Howard Kennedy has launched a redundancy consultation with six non-equity partners and one senior associate in its property department in a bid to maintain profitability at the firm.

The consultation could lead to the firm’s property practice shrinking from 26 partners to 20, with a statement from Howard Kennedy issued earlier today (14 February) concluding that the top heavy practice, which also comprises 19 solicitors, had limited opportunities for growth and succession planning.

The redundancy talks follow a 12-month strategy review at the firm launched after the appointment of chief executive Mark Dembovsky. Dembovsky, who previously held the same position at Dawsons, joined Howard Kennedy in January last year as the first non-lawyer in the West End firm’s management team.

Howard Kennedy, which has 59 partners in total including 13 equity partners, reported a turnover of £29.5m for 2010-11, of which £12.7m came from its property practice. The property group’s client portfolio includes Ballymore Properties, Frogmore and Merchant Place Corporate Finance.

The firm said in a statement: “Over the past 12 months, since the appointment of chief executive Mark Dembovsky, the firm has been undergoing a strategic review to focus the business in key areas. The firm is committed to growing and strengthening all aspects of its practice. Certain key areas, however, have been ‘top heavy’ for some time.

“A steady recruitment process is already underway to appoint fresh talent at a junior solicitor level. Today’s focus for the firm is to build for the future. Howard Kennedy is undergoing a restructuring process to improve profitability and to re-align itself with client needs.”

As part of the strategic review the firm is also set to re-align its practice groups under two broad headings later this summer-Howard Kennedy Business and Howard Kennedy Personal- in an effort to bring more clarity to clients.

The firm has also restructured its corporate group in a bid to focus on key areas, with partner Dov Katz appointed as head of AIM.

Dembovsky (pictured) commented: “We needto build for the future, to inject fresh blood and to focus on strengthening key areas. We are on a journey and we will face tough decisions along the way. The world has changed beyond recognition. We have to adapt and position ourselves accordingly.”