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NRF appoints first female chair as City veteran Parish steps down

While Norton Rose Fulbright’s (NRF) chief executive Peter Martyr is closing in on two decades leading the firm, its C-suite will see a new face with Tricia Hobson becoming its first female chair and Stephen Parish stepping down as EMEA chair next spring.

NRF announced that Australia head Hobson will take over as global chair at the end of the year from the London-based Parish.

Parish will continue as chair of NRF’s operations in Europe, Middle East and Asia, a role where he was elected for a third term in 2015 . There will be a fresh election for the EMEA role in early 2018, though Parish has confirmed that he will not stand again.

Described by the firm as an ‘ambassadorial leadership role’, the global chair focuses on improving collaboration and client relationship among NRF’s various verein members, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives.

‘The main task is to be the external face of NRF from an international perspective,’ Parish told Legal Business. ‘There is quite a bit of travelling around the world to meet clients and preaching the good news about what NRF is doing. It is also about being the internal face, going around the various regions, telling our people what we are doing and how they can help with our development.’

The global chair role was first established in 2009 and held by Parish until 2011, when it was turned into a one-year role taken up on a rotational basis by the firm’s regional heads – along with Europe and Australia, the firm has a chair for its American and Canadian businesses.

The Sydney-based litigator Hobson was named in the role a few days after NRF’s merger with mid-tier Australian practice Henry Davis York went live on 1 December .

A veteran litigator, Hobson recently defended three former directors of QrxPharma in a lawsuit brought by a group of shareholders on alleged regulatory non-disclosure.

‘It is fantastic that we are able to have a woman as global chair,’ continued Parish. ‘One of the things I have been keen to promote during my time as chair is diversity, and gender diversity is one of the most important aspects of it.’

Martyr, who was in October confirmed for a sixth term leading NRF , said that Hobson’s appointment demonstrated ‘the importance of the Asia Pacific region to the development of our global business’. ‘Tricia’s knowledge and extensive experience of working within the global insurance industry will be invaluable as we look to grow our practice.’

The changes in leadership comes amid a busy time for NRF. Aside from the Henry Davis deal, the top 20 Global law firm in June went live on its merger with New York’s Chadbourne & Parke .