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Lawrence Graham has appointed a new head of property following the promotion of Penny Francis to managing partner.
Stephen Stephens will take over the running of the department at the end of April next year, when current head Francis will replace Bill Richards as the firm's managing partner. Richards is becoming senior partner (The Lawyer, 29 October). Stephens trained in Australia before moving to London in 1981. He was a partner at Saunders Sobell and then Forsyte Saunders Kerman before joining Lawrence Graham in 1998. His practice focuses on specialist forward funding work and speculative development work. His clients include Allied Dunbar and Threadneedle Investments. Lawrence Graham's property department accounts for between 30 and 40 per cent of the turnover, and Stephens said he has no plans to try to increase that. He said: "Because of the economy and general portfolio theory it's smart for lawyers not to have too much in one basket as a proportion of the firm. It's not a good thing for property to become too much larger." He said that one of the biggest challenges the property department had faced was the increasing use of technology in transactions. The department has just finished advising Topland on the purchase and leaseback of 78 stores to Marks & Spencer - a cash deal worth £348m.