Hammond Suddards senior partner Alan Bottomley has announced plans to retire after 24 years building the firm to its current position. Bottomley has been influential in the firm's development since the mid-1970s, having seen it grow from his family practice Gaunt, Fosters & Bottomley through several mergers finally to become a 900-staff commercial firm with offices in Leeds, London, Manchester, Bradford and Brussels. Bottomley retires on 30 April 1996. He will be succeeded by head of litigation John Heller, who was elected unanimously by the firm's 59 partners on 6 December. Heller said: "Alan was among the first in the profession to recognise the opportunity to compete on equal terms with the major London firms."