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Leading intellectual property lawyer Katrina Rathie has been appointed NSW patron of the Australian Asian Lawyers Association (AALA), despite recently retiring from legal work.

Rathie, who grew up in Sydney as the daughter of Chinese migrants to Australia, became the first Asian person appointed to the partnership at top-tier, global firm King & Wood Mallesons more than 20 years ago. She recently announced she would be stepping away from her role as partner-in-charge in the Sydney office of KWM to focus on her roles as a business leader, non-executive director on several boards, and in her new volunteer role advocating for the AALA in NSW.

The AALA welcomed her as its new patron via a published statement in July: “Katrina is passionate about diversity, inclusion and belonging,” it wrote.

“She has been a trailblazer who has led the way by shattering the glass and bamboo ceilings. As a former member of the Law Society of NSW’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Managing Partner’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, she worked with the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Race Discrimination Commissioners and was involved in arranging for several of Australia’s leading law firms to sign a Cultural Diversity Pledge in 2017 to measure the level of cultural diversity in law firms and embed policies to track and advance cultural diversity in the profession. Katrina has been an active member of AALA since it was founded and is pleased to continue as a member of the Data and Policy Sub-Committee.”

The AALA is the first incorporated association in Australia to focus on the growing number of Asian Australian lawyers in the profession. Rathie, as state patron, will join the organisation’s national patron former Chief Justice of the Family Court Diana Bryant, and emeritus patron former High Court Justice Michael Kirby.