DLA Phillips Fox has elected Margaret Gibson as its first female chairman of the board. This also makes her the first external director to have taken up the position, the previous chairmen having been partners of the firm.
Prior to becoming involved with the firm, Gibson had an extensive career in professional services. She spent more than 30 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a tax specialist where she was a member of the board of partners and leader of the firm’s technology group and government practice.
She is also currently a member of a number of company boards and several public advisory bodies, and for the past 10 years she has been the finance editor and presenter of the Nine Network’s Today show.
Her connection with DLA Phillips Fox began when she became an external director of the firm earlier this year, and she is enthusiastic about her new role as chairman.
“I was admitted as a barrister myself many years ago so the opportunity to reconnect with the law was quite appealing. I’m very much looking forward to it,” she said.
Gibson explained that generally the position involves assisting solicitors in setting the direction for the firm and carrying out the firm’s strategy. However because the firm has for the first time taken the unusual step of appointing an external director, she believes there will be an opportunity to re-shape the scope of the role.
“Up until now all the chairmen have been partners so I think we’ll need to look at the role from a different angle,” she said.
As to why the firm has chosen to elect an external director, she explained, “even prior to the alliance DLA Piper has had independent board members and I think the board has gotten to know the value that we bring”.
Gibson is particularly excited by the prospect of helping to develop opportunities for both clients and the firm’s employees through the firm’s alliance with international firm DLA Piper.
“Through the alliance we have the opportunity to be a truly global firm. I have the opportunity to assist putting that into place from a lay perspective, working with the people here to see how we can get the right fit, which is a fantastic opportunity. It gives us the chance to hire people that are really bright, who are interested in getting some overseas experience and who want to work with some big global clients.
“It gives our clients the opportunity to work globally with a full, integrated legal practice, which really just hasn’t been done before. It’s really very exciting,” she said.