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Nottingham firm Warren & Allen has elected 30-year-old Heather Stanford as its managing partner.
Stanford, thought to be the youngest woman in such a high-ranking position, replaces Chris Miller, who is standing down to join rival Nottingham firm Nelsons as deputy managing partner after 21 years with Warren & Allen.
Stanford says: "It was a surprise to be asked to do the job, but it was a direction in which I hoped my career would go in due course. This opportunity came up and you can't look a gift-horse in the mouth."
Stanford says she wants to bring in a less "autocratic" style of management and start a process of teambuilding to encourage partners to identify with the firm.
Stanford qualified with 10-partner Warren & Allen in 1994 and has been a partner in the commercial litigation department where she is credited with introducing innovative practice methods to the firm.
Miller leaves at the end of August, but Stanford took up her post at the beginning of the month.
A Nelsons spokeswoman said Chris Miller will work closely with managing partner Tim Hastings and that his appointment reflects how much the company has grown over the last 12 months.