Last year Legal Business described Howard Kennedy’s chief executive Mark Dembovsky as ‘renaissance man’, having taken charge of a West End firm on shaky ground in January 2011 and orchestrated the merger of Howard Kennedy and Finers Stephens Innocent, to create the £40 million practice HowardKennedyFsi.
Today, the top 75 firm announced that its first non-lawyer chief executive has resigned, leaving the existing management committee members Craig Emden, who is currently head of disputes, and former managing partner Paul Millett to take over as joint managing partners.
During his time at HowardKennedyFsi, Dembovsky (pictured) brought in a number of measures to address the firm’s profitability issues, including introducing a ‘financial hygiene’ scheme that includes chasing up old debts and a more active cash collection system.
With a 2012/13 profit per equity partner (PEP) of £129,000 the firm, on the face of it, was the worst performing firm in the LB100 by that denominator, with the next closest Manches, now taken over by Penningtons. However, that PEP figure was hit by the firm having moved to an all equity structure post-merger and, with the merger only just under its belt, it will be some time before its financial health can be accurately assessed.
Dembovsky’s destination was unknown at the time of writing but the former Deloitte accountant has good credentials, having previously worked with Linklaters to help it expand its global footprint and later acting as chief executive of Warner Cranston, which merged with Reed Smith in 2001. Dembosky then served as Reed Smith’s chief strategic officer for eight years until he started up Montana Associates in 2009 before a brief and ill-advised stint at now defunct Dawsons, which collapsed in 2011.
Commenting on the news of Dembovsky’s departure, Emden said ‘Mark is a true professional who has worked tirelessly to bring an intellectual and strategic rigour to our business. He has made enormous strides working with us to transform our two legacy practices and set us on a path of an exciting future for the merged firm.
‘We are committed to continuing the process of taking the firm forward and to capitalising on the firm foundations Mark has helped us lay down. We are sad to see Mark go and are sure that he will make a significant and positive impact on whatever he turns his hand to. We wish him well for the future.’
Dembovsky added: ‘It has been a privilege to have worked for the last three years with very special people on a programme of change that has seen Howard Kennedy and then HowardKennedyFsi take on a focused and game changing approach to the provision of legal services to its impressive client base and wider market. I wish the firm every success in the future and am sure that it will continue to go from strength to strength.’