US and UK growth drive 17% increase in Kennedys’ revenue

Turnover at insurance specialist jumps to £384m as fee-earner count climbs by 12%

Kennedys senior partner Nick Thomas Image courtesy of Kennedys

A year of ambitious growth globally has pushed Kennedys’ revenue to a new high of £384m, up 17% on the previous year. 

The results mark the insurance specialist’s 10th consecutive year of revenue growth, with turnover more than tripling since FY15, when it was £122m. 

The firm does not disclose profits, though APAC managing partner and executive team member Matt Andrews told GLP the firm had budgeted to increase profitability as well as revenue and had done so, adding: “We’re happy with where we are.”

Around 80-85% of the firm’s revenue is generated by insurance work, with the remainder being generated by its company commercial department, which offer services in areas including commercial disputes, corporate/M&A and employment for mostly insurance industry clients. The proportion of its revenue generated outside of the UK has also been steadily increasing, from 43% in 2021 to 50% last year. 

As in previous years Kennedys’ North America practice had the biggest revenue gain, growing turnover 22% to £96m.

Its state-side operations, led by US managing partner Meg Catalano, now makes up almost half of its international revenue following steady growth since the firm merged with US insurance specialist Carroll McNulty & Kull in 2017.

In the past financial year the firm opened its 10th US office, in Fort Lauderdale, and added eight partners across the States, including constuction and shipping industry specialist Jay Hamad, who joined in New York at the head of a team of seven lawyers from Philadelphia litigation firm Marshall Dennehey. 

Commenting on Kennedys’ US expansion, senior partner, Nick Thomas, said: “We have been actively looking for the right people in jurisdictions in the States, but there are also a lot of people there doing insurance work in a full practice firm who are noticing there is now an entity that’s pretty much all insurance, so they are beating a path to our door and asking to join us. It’s great as it means we have the luxury of picking the best of the best, so we’re going to be generating more revenue.”

In the past few years the firm’s revenue growth in the UK – its home market – had been modest but this time round it shot up 18% to £192m. Thomas said the jump was fuelled by big pieces of ongoing insurance litigation, including multibillion-pound claims lodged against major insurers over aircraft stranded in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. Last year the firm also hired a liability team from DAC Beachcroft led by partner Andrea Ward to open its 13th UK office, in Newcastle

Meantime the firm’s APAC revenue grew by 14% to £53.8m, and EMEA by 14% to £34.6m. LATAM growth slowed from 19% in FY23, following its forming of associations with local firms in Bolivia and Ecuador, to 2% this time round, hitting £7.7m.  

Over the course of the year the firm grew fee-earner headcount by 12% to more than 1,200, including 19 partner hires worldwide. Lateral hires included a nine-strong liability team in London and Newcastle from Plexus Law led by partner Mark Dyson and a 12-lawyer team that joined in Sydney from Clyde & Co shortly after Lucinda Lyons, Clydes’ former Australia managing partner, moved to the firm.  

The firm added 17 lawyers to the partnership in its annual promotions round in May, in a cohort that included more women than men for the third year in a row. The firm met its target to have women make up 35% of its partnership by 2025 ahead of time and said it was on track to hit 40% by 2030. 

The firm also launched its new strategic plan following a period of self analysis which Andrews noted was the first time it had done so thinking of itself “as a global firm, rather than a UK firm with overseas offices”.

“Leading into this financial year we took the opportunity to consolidate our governance structure, because the firm has grown considerably over the last two decades and Nick has been the senior partner for the majority of that period, and with the size of our revenue and our number of offices, the calls on his time across times zones had increased enormously,” Andrews said. 

“So we created an executive group with management responsibility for the global firm and put into place some other structures around global product lines. As part of that we embarked on a wholesale review of who we were, what we wanted to be and how we wanted to get there and as a result identified six strategic priorities.”

Andrews listed those priorities as clients and people in first and second place as the core of the firm, followed by growth strategies, structure, innovation and finally finance, as “if we get the others right, to a certain extent that will look after itself”, he said. He added the firm has a “soft seventh” priority to be a responsible business, which is “embedded in our vision and imbues our other priorities”.

Kennedys is one of the first firms to report its results as the UK financial reporting season gets underway. Its robust revenue growth is in line with the other firms that have published results so far, including Browne Jacobson’s 12% growth to £118m and Stephenson Harwood’s 16% rise to £264m. Osborne Clarke also posted a robust set of results today, growing international revenue 19% to €525m and surpassing its target of €500m a year early.

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