As debuts go, Latham & Watkins’ launch of an Italian law practice is one of the more striking in recent memory. The hire, announced Nov. 22, of a five-partner finance and corporate team from local leader Bonelli Erede & Papparlado brings the U.S. firm its first Italian-qualified lawyers, a Rome office and a boost to its Milan office, previously home to just a handful of associates.

Latham’s Bonelli hire, plus Linklaters’ recent Italian hiring spree, may be the early signs that U.S. and U.K. firms are succeeding in a market in which international firms have always had a hard time finding a foothold. Since the start of the year, the Magic Circle firm has been busy raiding rivals to ramp up its corporate and finance teams in Italy.

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