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24 Jun 16, 12:00AM
A new era begins at AFG LAW as Isobel Gray steps down as Managing Director of AFG LAW on 30 June 2016. Having steered the firm through a recession, a rebrand/incorporation and a banking crisis, the time is now right for Isobel to hand over to Anita Boardman and Greg French, the new Managing Directors.
Isobel has been pioneering during her time at AFG LAW, promoting excellence across all areas of law as well as introducing new services to the firm’s portfolio. A “glass ceiling “at AFG LAW for women or indeed anyone does not exist. Regrettably, this still cannot be said of the rest of the legal profession in 2016 . As Isobel retires, she leaves a 50:50 split of male/female Directors and goes out on a high. In fact diversity is something Isobel has always believed in and promoted.
Isobel says “We have achieved much success over the past 10 years, not least steady growth at a time when other law firms were failing. There were many obstacles and challenges along the way but we overcame them all! We have held the prestigious Lexcel accreditation for a number of years now. In addition, at the end of 2015 AFG LAW was awarded Investors in People Gold. This was one of my proudest moments at AFG LAW. The people at AFG LAW are a precious resource.
And on a personal level, as criminal defence has always been my passion I am very proud of my 30 years work representing the weak, vulnerable and accused. That said now it is a good time for me to step down and hand the business over to Anita and Greg. They have been developed for this moment and are very capable. I have the utmost confidence in all the Directors to take AFG LAW forward. After that I intend to sit back, relax and enjoy life after a busy and challenging career“.
Born in Whitehaven, Cumbria, Isobel is the youngest of four daughters born to the late architect and war hero Ronald Peter Gray MBE and the late Edith Winifred Gray, Justice of the Peace and Citizens Advice Bureau organizer. Her sisters have built lives in Canada, Australia and southern England, while Isobel settled in Manchester after graduating from Manchester University in 1979. She married Manchester based sports/ entertainment lawyer Rudi Kidd in 1985, just months before joining AFG LAW as a newly qualified litigation lawyer. They separated amicably in 2007 and remain friends.
Isobel has two grown up sons, both born during her time at AFG LAW, the first while she was a criminal defence solicitor and the second when she was a partner. In fact a testimony to her commitment to AFG LAW was when Isobel worked half a day in our Bolton office on the day her second son was born and was back in work four weeks later!
Isobel has bought a cave-house in Andalucía, Spain and plans to split her time between there and Manchester, where she has family and property. Having suffered with a chronic lung condition for many years, Isobel is looking forward to a sunnier climate and a less stressful time learning Spanish and volunteering at a local animal rescue. As a person who is opposed to blood sports she plans to join the campaign against bull fighting in Spain. She will return to horse riding now she has the time. She also plans to pursue her interests in books, film, music, dance, modern art and architecture.
Although a keen Manchester United fan her local team Granada FC will also gain a new supporter. Isobel will take her much- loved four legged friends (a dog and two cats) to Spain with her.
“Greg and I have a big role to fill” said Anita Boardman “we will miss Isobel as she has been key in developing us for taking over the business. It has been great to work alongside her while we have taken on more of the overall management responsibility this year.”
Since joining AFG LAW (formerly Adam F Greenhalgh) in 1986, Isobel has grown and developed with the firm. She started as a newly qualified litigation lawyer, specialised in criminal defence and became a partner in 1990, aged only 32. Isobel was appointed Managing Partner in 2006 and leaves a solid legacy in her wake. She was also head of the police station and magistrates division of the Criminal department and Complaints partner during her 30 years at AFG LAW.
Greg added “The whole firm wishes Isobel the very best for her retirement. She has many exciting plans and we know she won’t be a stranger when she is back in the UK. Anita and I are excited for the future and continuing to take AFG LAW from strength to strength.”
To acknowledge Isobel’s departure the whole firm closed early on Thursday 23 June 2016 to ensure everyone could raise a glass and send Isobel on her way.