Norton Rose Fulbright unveils Sydney-based partner as next global chair

Global re-structuring co-head Scott Atkins will succeed London partner Farmida Bi

Scott Atkins Image courtesy of Norton Rose Fulbright

UK law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has announced that restructuring partner Scott Atkins, the firm’s Australia chair, will be its next global chair.

Sydney-based Atkins will take over 1 January 2023 in the annually-appointed role from London debt capital markets partner Farmida Bi, who will continue as the firm’s EMEA chair. 

While serving as global chair, NRF said Atkins would continue as chair of the firm in Australia, as well as global co-head of the restructuring team and the Australian head of risk advisory. 

“[Atkins’] history of leadership roles and experience advising business and governments on international matters will be a tremendous support to our global leadership team,” said Gerry Pecht, NRF’s global chief executive. “I would also like to sincerely thank Farmida for her contributions as global chair over the past year.”

Atkins has almost three decades of experience as a lawyer and joined NRF in 2017 when Sydney boutique Henry Davis York, of which he was chair, merged with the firm. He had spent more than 15 years at Henry Davis and prior to that spent a number of years as senior legal counsel for the Commonwealth Bank. 

His dual-track insolvency and risk practice focuses on cross-border matters involving complex restructurings, risk management and the design and implementation of new legal frameworks and reconstruction projects in emerging economies. 

Standout work has included leading a team that worked with the Asian Development Bank and the Union Supreme Court of Myanmar to draft a new insolvency and restructuring framework for Myanmar, which resulted in the passage of Myanmar's Insolvency Law in 2020. 

Atkins also focuses on developing NRF’s space offering and has worked on governance, culture and compliance issues in the sector. 

As global chair he is is expected to drive the firm’s strategy and efforts to maintain standards of client service, NRF said. 

“My focus will be to support the firm’s leadership to implement our strategy; support our clients as they pursue new frontiers, such as the burgeoning commercial space industry; and above all, to continue to deliver our exceptional standards of client service,” said Atkins. “Norton Rose Fulbright has tremendous potential leading into 2023, and I look forward to helping the firm seize market opportunities for the benefit of our clients.”

Atkins takes the helm following a strong showing for NRF’s non-US business in the year to 30 April 2022, when according to accounts filed by the firm with Companies House in the UK revenue grew 8% to £527m against a 6% rise in profit to £156m. 

During Bi’s time at the helm key moves for the firm included hiring 11 lawyers from firms including K&L Gates and DLA Piper to launch in Chicago in the spring and setting up shop in Dusseldorf with nine lawyers from international firms in September. 

The firm also had a 54-strong partner promotions round in January that included 23 women (43%), meaning it slightly exceeded its gender diversity target of 40% women in its overall partnership, leadership roles, lawyer promotions, lateral additions and senior business service hires.

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