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Steptoe & Johnson has taken the highly unusual step of replacing its London managing partner with a committee of four partners.
The decision to manage London by consensus, and the fact that two of the four partners are real estate specialists, has raised questions about the future direction of Steptoe in London.
Former managing partner Maury Shenk took up the role in 2002, a year after the US firm's merger with with UK technology and telecoms boutique Rakisons in January 2001. He will continue as head of Steptoe's technology and telecoms practice in London.
Shenk cited the birth of his first child earlier this year as the reason for his decision to return to a full-time fee-earning role and said that he had "asked to be relieved" of the management responsibilities.
The new management team features UK-qualified real estate partners Brendan Patterson and Matt Farmer and litigation partners Tom Sprange and Mike Kail.
Patterson said the firm had considered having a single managing partner for London but decided to have four "so that the burden of management could be shared".