Howard Kennedy, the somewhat troubled West End firm, is snapping up competitor Finers Stephens Innocent to create an 87-partner business.

Howard Kennedy has been plagued with problems - the loss of 10% of its partners in February set the seal on a difficult few years of mass redundancies, resignations and lost jackets. Mark Dembovsky was brought in as CEO to try to sort it out, and his solution is to take over Finers Stephens Innocent: a firm best known for name partner Mark Stephens, who appears regularly on Newsnight.

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Although termed a merger there's no doubt who has the whip hand. The new firm is to be called Howard Kennedy FSI and Dembovsky will run it. The new firm is certainly aspirational: the press release said it would "become the pre-eminent legal advisors to entrepreneurs, wealthy individuals and families and their businesses and funders".

Hmmmmm. Firms which are genuinely pre-eminent in this market, such as Mishcons and MacFarlanes, have about three fee-earners to every partner. The new firm's 87 partners will only have 125 associates working for them, which is under half the gearing of its competitors and surely not a viable model. It will either have to recruit a stack of junior lawyers or cull half its partners. Dembovsky stressed to RollOnFriday that it would be the former and the firm had an aggressive expansion programme. Watch this space.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 11 August 12 08:43

I've got a Volkswagen 2.0 FSI. In their position I might have thought again about having those initials.

Anonymous 13 August 12 23:51

Not sure that the plan "to recruit a stack of junior lawyers" is accurate - have heard FSI are only keeping 3 out of 7 trainees this year