Black Country law firm Manby & Steward has appointed Gavin Southall as senior partner.

It comes in the wake of the retirement of Clive Williams who has been with M&S for more than 40 years. The change coin-cides with the firm's transition to a limited liability partnership.

Mr Southall, who has worked in the firm's business services department for 25 years, became a partner in 1976 following in the footsteps of his father who was senior partner in the firm for many years.

He is head of the business services group and specialises in all aspects of commercial law.

Commenting on his promotion, Mr Southall said: "I'm delighted to be taking the reigns at what is an exciting time for both the firm and the industry as a whole.

"The firm has responded well over the years to the ever increasing challenges that we have to meet in business. I am looking forw ard to working to develop and deepen our relationships with clients old and new and focusing on their legal require-ments. I also wish to see the firm continuing to focus on recruiting and retaining the best people."

Mr Williams, who will continue his association in the new role of consultant, added: "I have enjoyed my time at Manby & Steward and am confident that the stewardship of the practice will be ably managed by Mr Southall.

"I am looking forward to continuing my connection with clients in my new role."

Chief executive, Valerie Bowles, added: "The timing of the handover is particularly apt as it coincides with our move to become a limited liability partnership. We believe converting to an LLP is the right vehicle for our business and the most appropriate structure in which to operate and grow a modern, forward-thinking commercial and private client law firm such as our own.

"I'm looking forward to working closely with Gavin over the next few months and am confident the plans we put in place now will reap real benefits and ensure the firm continues to thrive over the coming years."