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RICHARDS Butler has abolished the post of managing partner and appointed an accountant to oversee the running of the firm.
The move promotes finance director Chris Schulten to the newly-created job of chief executive, while former head Ken Ollerton, who had worked as managing partner for the past four years, returns to his practice as a commercial litigator.
The choice of a non-lawyer for the top job is a first for any of London's top 15 firms.
"The firm was keen to bring in someone with a fresh view," said Schulten. "I was attracted to join Richards Butler three years ago by an opportunity to come into a firm which was in a sector I had no previous experience of but where I would be able to employ the commercial and financial experience I had gained in a number of other sectors. Now I have a chance to fill that role in a wider sense, and I'm looking forward to it."
"It makes sense in the modern world to leave that role to a professional manager and leave the fee earning partners to concentrate on that side of things."
Schulten will work with Tim Archer, currently in his second three-year term as senior partner and a five-member partnership board.
"The firm is growing from a profitable base," said Schulten. "However, we are constantly looking for a more effective service to our domestic and international clients. To be managing these opportunities will be challenging and satisfying."