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Norton Rose Fulbright’s Martyr set to stand in upcoming global leadership election

He’s been a long time at the top but, having transformed London stalwart Norton Rose into a global challenger, he is not ready to hand over just yet. Yes, Norton Rose Fulbright’s longstanding chief executive Peter Martyr is being widely tipped to stand in the legal giant’s upcoming election for its top leadership role.

With Martyr’s three-year term ending in December, it is understood that the City-based chief has put himself forward to take on the role again. If elected, it will constitute his fifth term in office.

The formal soundings process for potential candidates has not yet begun but is set to conclude by early autumn, when it will become clear if the election will be contested. Martyr, who originally assumed the leadership of Norton Rose in 2002, was last re-elected unopposed in 2011.

The process of succession for the role of chief executive is handled by its ‘future leadership commission’, a committee of ten partners across different jurisdictions. Its function is to evaluate individuals from junior partner level in order to identify those with the right skills to potentially step into senior leadership.

It is unclear if anyone would stand against Martyr, though one veteran partner at Norton Rose told Legal Business: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

In contrast, one ex-Norton Rose partner commented: ‘I’m a firm believer that it’s good to have some change in management style. It gets stale after a while – secondly, it’s responsible, however good a manager might be, to look towards succession planning. Four terms is an extraordinary length of time. You need fresh blood and a fresh approach.’

Martyr is generally regarded to have been a successful leader after repositioning the legacy Norton Rose as a global force with a series of audacious mergers, though some partners have privately grumbled at the lack of consultation from the firm’s central management.

Martyr himself was the driving force behind the firm’s strategic global expansion, overseeing its entry into multiple overseas markets including its ambitious combination with Texan law firm Fulbright & Jaworski last June. Other tie-ups included a merger with Deacons Australia in 2010; its Canadian tie-ups with Ogilvy Renault and Macleod Dixon in 2011 and 2012 respectively; and Deneys Reitz in South Africa in 2011.