Benjamin R. Civiletti, the longtime managing partner of Baltimore's Venable, Baetjer and Howard law firm, said yesterday that he was relinquishing that role to partner William J. McCarthy.
Mr. Civiletti, a U.S. attorney general under President Jimmy Carter, will continue to be chairman of Baltimore's largest law firm, which had 285 attorneys as of last fall.
Mr. Civiletti, in a statement, said the change "evolves from the marked expansion of the firm over the past five years, both in practice areas and geographic locations."
Venable has offices in Baltimore, Towson, Bel Air, Rockville, McLean, Va., and Washington, where it is known as Venable, Baetjer and Civiletti.
Officials at the firm could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Two years ago, Mr. Civiletti reorganized the firm into three major practice areas: business, labor and litigation, and government.
Last fall, he raised some hackles within the partnership ranks by proposing to change as many as half of the 135 profit-sharing partners into nonequity salaried attorneys. The management of the firm has been working on the details of that plan since.
By giving up the managing partner title, Mr. Civiletti said, he would be able to devote more time to handling legal matters, client relations and public service. In January, Gov. William Donald Schaefer appointed Mr. Civiletti to head a nine-month examination of Maryland's welfare policies.
A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Civiletti, 57, attended law school at Columbia University and the University of Maryland.
Mr. McCarthy, 61, a banking and corporate lawyer who joined Venable in 1963, has been vice chairman of the firm since 1990. He graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.
Mr. McCarthy serves on the boards of Mercantile Bankshares Corp., Johns Hopkins Hospital and Francis Scott Key Medical Center.