The Legal Cheek View
Howard Kennedy has gone through some pretty major changes in recent years – and seems to have emerged in good shape, proving the doubters wrong. The product of a 2013 merger between sensible corporate outfit Howard Kennedy and the slightly quirky media law-slanted Finers Stephens Innocent, the combined was firm initially seemed an unlikely jumble of practice areas and personalities. But a successful consolidation has seen turnover tick up towards £45 million and profit per equity partner rise to the half a million mark.
Howard Kennedy’s booming real estate department has led the growth charge, while the firm’s tech and media work – led by high profile co-founder Mark Stephens – adds glamour to the mix.
A move out of the West End – where both legacy firms had been based – to swanky 1 London Bridge overlooking the Thames and the City is symbolic of the new Howard Kennedy ethos. Instructions are increasingly coming in from the banks, companies and start-ups across the river.
What all this means for rookies at the firm right now is a fairly rare combination of quality work and excellent work-life balance. Howard Kennedy scored well in both these categories in Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, with insiders reporting “regularly being taken to client meetings, mediations and court” and “superiors [who] are very good at making sure that I get out the door at a decent time on a regular basis”. The firm is also apparently “very social” with lawyers “sometimes we all walking out the door together to go to the nearest pub”.
How long this utopia can endure as Howard Kennedy more ‘City’ in its culture is another matter. But for now the firm is in a sweet spot. It even scores well for international opportunities – despite having no international offices – thanks to a policy of bringing trainees along on business trips. Last year junior members of the firm travelled to, among other places, the US, Hong Kong and Stockholm.