A LIGITATION lawyer who serves as president of the county’s Law Society is to take the top job at a Dorset legal firm.

Paul Dunlop, head of litigation and disputes at Blanchards Bailey, will become the firm’s managing partner on September 1.

He follows Alan Horne, who will become finance partner and remain a member of the management board,along with Jerome Dodge, head of private client.

Mr Dunlop, who joined Blandford-headquartered Blanchards Bailey in 2013, said: “I am honoured to have been made managing partner and will strive to ensure that the firm’s upward progression remains uninterrupted.

“I certainly have a hard act to follow in Alan, who has been crucial in the formation and success of Blanchards Bailey as it is today.

“This reorganisation is part of the firm’s long-term strategic plan, which has already seen investment in the latest IT software, new VOIP telephone system, development of staff and key appointments and promotions.

“For instance, partner Robin Cole, who has 30 years’ experience in commercial property and development law, most of which was spent working in top City of London law firms, has been appointed to head of commercial services.”

Eighty-strong Blanchards Bailey is ranked in the Legal 500 directory of top firms and has offices in Poundbury, Shaftesbury and Weymouth.

It won a hat trick of titles at last year’s Dorset Legal Awards, named Law Firm of the Year with up to 99 staff, Company Commercial Team of the Year and Private Client Team of the Year.

The firm will shortly be announcing its chosen charity for the coming year.

In recent months, Mr Dunlop has been elected president of Dorset Law Society, the professional association which represents and governs solicitors, for a second year.

He also became a father for the first time, to daughter Penelope. “The civil procedure rules are great bedtime reading – she soon drifts off,” he said.