Norton Rose is reshuffling its European management team following the sudden death of the head of its Paris office in December.
Alain Sanchez, who died on New Year's Eve, will be replaced by Tim Howard, the manager of the firm's associated offices in Greece.
The Greek office had to be rebranded Law Office Howard in August to comply with a clampdown by local regulators. But Howard's departure from the Greek practice will necessitate a change of name.
The associated office will now be led by Chris Hobbs, the current head of the shipping litigation group in London, and will be known as Law Office Hobbs.
Howard, a shipping and insurance litigator, has been a partner in the firm since 1978, and has been in Greece for the past five years.
Hobbs has been a partner at the firm for six years. He says: “Tim was coming to the end of his stint in Greece and was going to be replaced in any event. We've had a sort of shipping practice in France which we haven't done a lot with and we thought we ought to be expanding that, so Tim is going in to spearhead it.
“I'm going down as managing partner in Athens, and part of my role will be administrative. I'm a shipper by trade, and I'm going to be spreading my time between Athens and Piraeus.”
Howard says: “I'm taking over obviously in circumstances that I wouldn't have chosen. Michael Lee is moving gracefully into retirement and he headed our English arbitration and litigation practice. That's my own area of expertise, and I can add to that shipping expertise that we've not previously had.”
The firm has 75 lawyers in Paris and about 25 in Athens.