Kench (pictured) is the managing partner of the firm’s real estate, construction, environment and infrastructure group.
She joins Henry Davis York’s Sharon Cook as the only female managing partners of a top 30 Australian law firm by revenue.
The Australian chairman of KWM, Stephen Minns, announced the appointment today (24 May).
“We are thrilled to confirm Sue’s appointment,” he said in a statement.
“Sue has a firm grasp of the key challenges and opportunities facing our clients and the right combination of expertise, experience and energy to lead the business in what is an increasingly dynamic market.”
Kench said she was honoured to take the helm of KWM’s Australian practice. She also admitted that competition for clients and deals in the Australian market remains fierce.
“My immediate priority will be to reach out to the firm’s major clients and to our people to listen to them and better understand how we can enrich the client experience moving forward,” she said.
The global head of KWM, Stuart Fuller, said Kench possesses “the stewardship and energetic drive for excellence that is critical to executing the firm’s domestic strategy and broader integration into the region and internationally”.
Fuller told Lawyers Weekly on Tuesday (22 May) that the quick exit of O’Malley was in the best interests of the firm.
Kench takes over the stewardship of the Australian arm of KWM at a time of great turmoil for the firm.
In addition to O'Malley's sudden departure, KWM has recently laid off some staff and the firm continues to be the subject of much speculation around a further possible merger.
Kench joined KWM as a solicitor in 1993 and was appointed to the firm’s partnership in 1996.
Kench was a finalist in the LitSupport Female Partner Award at the inaugural Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards in 2012.