National firm Irwin Mitchell today announced its group chief executive John Pickering will stand down after 37 years with the practice.

Pickering, who became CEO in 2011, has overseen rapid recent expansion and the successful application to be an alternative business structure.

Andrew Tucker, who was chief executive of the personal legal services division, will be new group chief executive and took up his role on Monday.

In a statement, Pickering (pictured) said his decision to step down was based on the changing legal sector and his desire for the firm to have a settled management in place long term.

He will now pursue ‘long-held ambitions to hold non-executive positions in other businesses’.

Pickering said: ‘I believe we have created a basis for the future success of the business. It is well placed to take advantage of all the opportunities which will come our way in the near future and to progress our plans.

‘The group will need a settled management team in place throughout this and, therefore, I concluded that a well-managed and orderly transition to a new leader was appropriate now and the right direction for the firm to take.’

Glyn Barker, chairman of Irwin Mitchell, said Pickering had been a ‘leader and inspiration’ to the firm.

Pickering joined Irwin Mitchell as an articled clerk in 1977, becoming a partner in 1980. He headed the firm’s personal injury practice before being elected national managing partner in 2009. He became group chief executive two years later, in May 2011.

Tucker, who has been with Irwin Mitchell since 1985, will work on a transition period with his predecessor over the next few months.