One of the first non-lawyers to lead an English law firm has died at the age of 56.

Cheshire firm Aaron & Partners last week announced the sudden death of its chief executive Andy Duxbury (pictured), who had been with the practice since 2006.

Born in Blackburn, Duxbury graduated from the University of Leeds and spent the next 20 years working in marketing and business development roles for companies including Boots and RAC.

He moved into the legal profession in 2000 – first with Bevan Ashford as marketing director and then with Cobbetts in Manchester.

Aaron & Partners had first appointed a non-lawyer chief executive in 1990 and Duxbury used the skills and experience he had gained from within and outside the profession to help the firm develop.

Simon Edwards, senior partner, said: ‘Lawyers are not easy to manage, but Andy was always able to build consensus through his clear thinking, determination, patience and charm.’

Mark Briegal, corporate partner and head of the firm’s professional practices team, added: ‘As a non-lawyer chief executive with a commercial and management background, Andy had a broad view of the business and was able to articulate our strategy and implement it.

‘Andy was one of the reasons that I joined Aarons and I shall miss him both personally and professionally.’

Despite the pressures of his role, Duxbury found time to serve as chair of advisers’ network Cheshire Professionals and a member of Cheshire Business Leaders, as well as being an active member of the Cheshire branch of the Institute of Directors, of which he was chairman for three years.

His funeral will be held on Thursday at 10.40am at Chester Crematorium.