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Missouri Lawyers Awards 2021: John Kennyhertz, Kennyhertz Perry

John Kennyhertz

John Kennyhertz

Law Firm Leaders

From business litigation to intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions to collegiate sports, the breadth of practice areas at Kennyhertz Perry literally spills across the Kansas City firm’s website — with still more updates to come.

“We’re willing to try new things and step into new areas,” Managing Partner John Kennyhertz said of his and co-founder Braden Perry’s shared approach to business development at their eight-year-old firm.

“We like to be the attorneys that tell our clients how to do something rather than tell them they can’t. We try to think out of the box, and I think our clients appreciate that, especially the entrepreneurs.”

In a year of economic upheaval that didn’t spare the legal industry, Kennyhertz Perry added two lawyers to its ranks, with several more scheduled to come on board in 2021. That growth will require the firm to expand its office space in Mission Woods, Kansas by 50 percent.

One of Kennyhertz’s nominators highlighted an employee compensation system at the firm “that rebukes the traditional associate and partnership structure” to give younger lawyers “not only a pathway to better compensation early in their careers, but more importantly, a feeling of ownership over the firm’s success, and incentive to generate new business and explore new fields.”

That transparent policy means paying attorneys a significant percentage of their billable hours and far more than the industry standard, Kennyhertz said. Revenue sharing for client origination adds an even greater amount to attorney compensation.

“It may seem to some firms that we overpay the attorneys here. We see it as the way it should be — good talent should be rewarded,” he said.

Kennyhertz earned an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Kansas and his law degree from Washburn University. He then handled complex litigation, insurance defense, employment law and workers compensation defense at Wallace Saunders (“a great way to begin a legal career”) before becoming in-house counsel at a Kansas City company. That, in turn, led to a position as general counsel for a California private equity firm.

Another nominator wrote that Kennyhertz has “executed his business plan masterfully.”

“Anyone who has paid attention over the last five years has seen his firm’s meteoric rise from a two-attorney business litigation firm to a highly esteemed ‘one-stop shop’ for a diverse range of business clients,” that nominator wrote. “John is a big-picture thinker, and the results are undeniable.”

Cannabis law is among the emerging practice areas Kennyhertz Perry has embraced. That early adaptation led to the firm’s recognition in 2019 with a Top Legal Innovation Award from Missouri Lawyers Media, which included the firm among a group of “trailblazers” in the nascent practice area for Missouri. (The state in 2018 became the 33rd to legalize medical marijuana when voters overwhelmingly approved a state Constitutional amendment).

“If you looked for a cannabis attorney in Missouri a few years ago, there weren’t any because that industry didn’t yet exist here,” Kennyhertz said. “We did a lot of work on the front end to get competent in that space before we were willing to take on clients.”

An active investor with an entrepreneurial bent, Kennyhertz’s own business interests mean added value for clients confronting the same challenges. He and Perry also invest in a lot of businesses — “from tech companies to multifamily real estate to oil and gas,” he said. “So we end up seeing a lot of businesses at work, not just as lawyers but as business owners. That’s one thing a lot of lawyers don’t necessarily get exposed to.”

 

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