Uncomfortable chair vote

Norton Rose partners force extension to nomination period for chairman

Norton Rose has developed a fondness for uncontested senior appointments, but its latest election for chair of the LLP suggests that partners are taking a stand against a perceived lack of democracy.

The firm announced Stephen Parish’s re-election two weeks ago, but details of the process that have since emerged point to a growing undercurrent of unease at the way the firm is being managed.

Global CEO Peter Martyr is thought to have told partners they had only a few days – a weekend, said one source – to nominate candidates to challenge Parish,
who was standing for a second term. Another source said Parish expected a plain sail to victory.

Norton Rose would not comment except to say that the process was run according to firm rules.

But sources confirmed that Martyr eventually extended the nomination period by roughly a week after what is understood to be unrest at the impression that he was effectively facilitating Parish’s coronation – not least because the role is meant to be independent from the main management.

Global competition head Martin Coleman stood against Parish in the end. “Martin’s the sort of person who’d take a stand on principle if he felt that something was being pushed through or was undemocratic,” said a source.

Coleman was one of a number of candidates who went for the role when Parish was first elected in 2009. He was a Labour leader of Brent Council in the 1980s and came a close third in Northampton South in the 1983 general election.

Clearly not everyone at Norton Rose is into uncontested votes.