SJ Berwin mediation chief David Shapiro is leaving the firm.
The 80-year old partner is to become an independent mediator to avoid conflict issues.
Shapiro said: “I will miss them all: lawyers, secretaries, support staff…even management.
“All the SJB lawyers, secretaries and support staff should know that I appreciate all they have done for me and that leaving here has been a truly difficult decision.”
Partner Phillip Howell-Richardson, who joined SJ Berwin in 2005, will succeed Shapiro as head of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) unit.
Howell-Richardson said he plans to develop the group internationally.
SJ Berwin litigation head Craig Pollack said: “We are very grateful to David for his contribution to the practice and he will be deeply missed. We cannot be anything but supportive and encouraging to a man who at the age of 80 is always looking for the next challenge.”
Shapiro joined SJ Berwin in 1996, when the Woolf Reforms were in the planning and consultation stages on the initiative of David Harrel, then senior partner and head of litigation.
Woolf has publicly acknowledged Shapiro’s influence in the introduction of incentives for parties to mediate, which were included in the reforms of the Rules of the Supreme Court in 1999.
SJ Berwin is to inaugurate an annual ADR Lecture, planned for Summer 2008, in Shapiro’s name.
Entitled The David Shapiro Annual Outrage, the event takes its name from a talk concerning justice, free speech and human rights which Shapiro gave many times to inspire new generations of young lawyers.