Italy: Jostling for position
Italian lawyers have a history of finding international law firms as unpalatable as a drop of cream in their afternoon coffee. Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, McDermott Will & Emery, and White & Case all bear the marks of high-profile partner departures, failed mergers, and collapsed alliances in Italy. Most have struggled to challenge the hegemony of the elite independent Italian practices, led by the trio of Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, Chiomenti Studio Legale, and Gianni, Origoni, Grippo & Partners. But for Latham & Watkins and Linklaters, history is no barrier to entry. Throughout 2007, both firms announced ambitious raids on Italian firms to launch outposts focused, at least initially, on winning high-end corporate and finance work. Linklaters made a series of hires from Allen & Overy and local practices Pedersoli e Associati, Bonelli and Camozzi Bonissoni Varrenti e Associati to build an eight-partner team of corporate, finance, and capital markets lawyers. In one fell swoop, Latham took a five-partner team from Bonelli, giving the firm its first Italian-qualified lawyers, split between Milan and Rome, to augment a US and English-qualified team of Italian specialists in London and Brussels.
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