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Herbert Smith's long-standing EU/competition head Jonathan Scott has stepped down from the role with partner Elizabeth McKnight set to take over at the beginning of January.
Scott, who has headed the group for the past 12 years, said he felt that after four terms in the role the time was right to step down.
He said: "It was very much something I was keen to do. You are normally appointed to these positions for periods of three to five years and I've done more terms than was good for anyone. I was very anxious to hand over."
Scott will continue to hold a position on the firm's partnership board.
McKnight, who has been a partner at Herbert Smith since 1994, specialises in all aspects of EU law. She acts for a number of financial institutions as well as media and telecommunications companies.
Most recently she advised BAA on the Competition Commission (CC) investigation into the supply of airport services by BAA and Resolution on obtaining merger control clearance for its possible merger with Friends Provident and on the subsequent proposed merger with Pearl.
Herbert Smith has also hired the Paris-based deputy secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration (ICC) as a partner in its Paris office this week.
US-qualified lawyer Jennifer Kirby, who joined the ICC from Simpson Thacher in 2002, is set to join Herbert Smith in the new year as a member of its international arbitration group.