The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced that chief executive Antony Townsend will be stepping down later in the year.
He will leave once his successor has been appointed.
Mr Townsend said: “I have headed up the SRA from its inception. The pace of change has been relentless; the challenges have been formidable.
“The SRA now has a firm basis upon which to develop and mature its new approach to regulation. I have concluded that after seven years it is a good time for me to move on.”
“I want to pay particular thanks to my exceptional colleagues, who have worked tirelessly in often difficult circumstances, and to the present and past board members who have been an invaluable source of support.”
Charles Plant, chairman of the SRA, said: “Antony inherited a regulatory organisation and regime in serious need of reform. Much has been achieved by the SRA under Antony’s leadership over the past seven years.
“The SRA’s transformation process must continue with particular emphasis on operational delivery now that the new regulatory framework is substantially in place. The next stage in the SRA’s development will be equally demanding over a further protracted period of time, and Antony and I have agreed that now is an appropriate time to effect a change.
“The board places on record its considerable gratitude to Antony for the dedication and skill with which he has led the SRA in challenging times, and for the success which has been achieved.”
Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: “Antony Townsend has worked tirelessly and selflessly to create a modern regulator for solicitors. He can take credit for many developments at the SRA and never wavered from his robust commitment to establishing it as a public interest regulator. We wish him well in his future career.”
Mr Townsend joined the SRA from the General Dental Council (GDC), where he had been chief executive for five years.
At the GDC he led a large reform programme to modernise dental regulation, including the extension of regulation to new groups of dental professionals.
He had previously held senior roles at the General Medical Council, including director of standards and education, and head of conduct. His earlier career was with the Home Office, where he worked primarily on criminal justice issues.