Commercial law firm Maclay Murray & Spens LLP has announced that Kenneth Shand, partner and head of its corporate department, has been elected chief executive and will take over the role from 1 June 2014, following Chris Smylie’s decision to step down at the end of his three-year term.

Smylie, who chose not to stand for a second term, will return to his role as a partner in MMS’ planning team. In the interim, he will work with Shand to ensure a smooth transition.

Robert Laing, chairman of MMS, said: ‘On behalf of the partnership I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge Chris’s outstanding contribution to the firm over his time as chief executive. Through a period of unprecedented turbulence in the legal sector he has piloted the firm with a steady hand and has been assured and resolute in his leadership.’

Kenneth Shand added: ‘It is a great privilege to be elected to lead MMS. Chris’s resolve in reshaping the firm through his tenure as CEO means we are in a strong position, with tremendous potential for the future. I look forward to working alongside Chris to ensure a smooth handover and effective implementation of this strategy.’

MMS announced in December that the firm had concluded more than £2bn worth of deals in the quarter, which culminated in its lead legal advisory role in Aberdeen Asset Management’s landmark £650m acquisition of SWIP. The team also advised Gatehouse, the sharia-compliant investment bank, in its £700m joint venture with Sigma to build 6,600 private homes for rent.