Eversheds  Sutherland has elected the first female chair of its non-US business, with UK financial services head Pamela Thompson winning the vote of partners.

Thompson saw off competition from joint head of energy and infrastructure Robert Pitcher in London, and Manchester senior partner Michael Clavell-Bate, to succeed incumbent Paul Smith as chair of legacy Eversheds, now known as Eversheds Sutherland International.

She will take up her four-year term in office on 1 May next year.

Chief executive Lee Ranson said: “On behalf of the firm, I would like to congratulate Pamela on her election as chair. She is a very well-respected and experienced leader, committed to our people and our clients in equal measure and to building Eversheds Sutherland into the firm we want it to be.”

The three candidates pitched their vision for the firm to partners across the UK and Europe in a series of meetings, with voting closing on Monday this week.

Smith, who was elected chair in 2013 in a two-horse race against Pitcher, is expected to stay with the firm and play a key role in the integration of the legacy UK arm with Sutherland’s US side of the business.

He said: “It has been a great privilege to serve as chair during a period of immense change and opportunity, with significant strides having been made in so many areas – not least our US combination and the growth in our global client base. I hope that Pamela enjoys the role as much as I have done and I wish her every success.”

Ranson, who succeeded the Bryan Hughes as CEO earlier this year, is also supported in leading the International business by managing partner Keith Froud and executive partner Ian Gray.