Shaw will revert to client facing duties with immediate effect. The firm said precise details of his future role will be agreed shortly, but he will continue to work out of the London office.
He was elected two years ago to a second three-year term after his co-managing partner Alan Campbell stood down.
A new election will be called and, meanwhile, Caryn Penley, head of performance and resources, and Allan Wernham, head of operational excellence, will take on the responsibilities of the managing partner. Penley also leads the firm’s debt, recovery and restructuring practice, while Wernham, heads the firm’s real estate team.
Chairman David Hardie said: “We welcome Donald’s decision to concentrate his considerable talent on our clients and to help us to further develop our firm and our strong focus on the real estate sector.
“I will be arranging a managing partner election in due course. We are deeply grateful to Donald for his skilled and dedicated service to the firm over the last six years as managing partner.”
The firm has 82 partners and 369 fee earners in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. It is one of the 50 largest law firms in Britain,
Shaw’s decision comes amid consultations with staff on redundancies. More than 20 staff in Scotland and London are thought to be facing the axe, including some partners, though this has been disputed. However, it is thought some of those leaving are long-serving lawyers.
The consultation process began on 23 February, just weeks after the firm opened an office in Aberdeen.
In recent months there have been a number of high-profile partner departures, including real estate partner Richard Lampert, who is joining Eversheds, Before Christmas the infrastructure head Andrew Renton left for a partnership at Bird & Bird.
Merger talks between Dundas & Wilson and London firm Bircham Dyson Bell collapsed last October.