The top lawyer at BlackRock Inc is leaving the company, a spokeswoman at the global asset management firm confirmed.

Robert P. Connolly, who joined BlackRock as general counsel in 1997, announced his retirement internally about two weeks ago, according to Bobbie Collins, a BlackRock spokeswoman.

Connolly is staying temporarily to help with the transition of his responsibilities, Collins said.

Circumstances surrounding his exit were unclear. Connolly's departure is abrupt, according to people familiar with the matter, who said that internal conflicts factored into the decision.

Efforts to reach Connolly on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Matthew Mallow, a former partner at Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, is now serving as interim general counsel, she said. Mallow joined BlackRock as a senior adviser in 2010, she said.

(Reporting By Suzanne Barlyn and Jessica Toonkel; editing by Mark Porter)