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Legal Market Overview

The EU’s third-largest economy is expected to stagnate during 2023. After bouncing back by an impressive 6.6% in 2021, Italy’s GDP growth was critically impacted by the war in Ukraine and gas supply issues with Russia, along with high levels of inflation.

On a positive note, Italy’s huge public debt is predicted to fall in 2023, while the country still has approximately €170bn of European Union pandemic recovery funds to be invested, provided Italy can adhere to certain milestone conditions imposed by Brussels.

In order to continue reaping generous EU funds, Italy has also been advised by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the country should not take an anti-democratic path, further to the September 2022 election, in which Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party head, Giorgia Meloni, led a right-wing alliance to victory and was named prime minister in October.

Meanwhile, Italy’s legal market is as active as ever. In November 2022, global law firm Dentons hired partner Luigi Costa from Norton Rose Fulbright to co-head a new project, energy and infrastructure practice in Italy alongside energy partner Carsten Steinhauer , the new offering intended to tap into Italy’s PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) and energy transition across Europe. In October 2021, Dentons also bolstered its debt capital markets in Rome through the hire of Annalisa Feliciani as partner from Hogan Lovells International LLP.

New practice areas are also springing up elsewhere. Orsingher Ortu – Avvocati Associati launched its financial services regulation practice in 2021 when it hired banking and financial law specialist Luigi Baglivo, a former Grimaldi Studio Legale partner; ADVANT Nctm recently established a white-collar crime practice to provide support on compliance matters; and Studio Legale Cappelli RCCD launched a dedicated green team that focuses on sustainable finance and the issuance of ESG (environmental, social and governance) products. In November 2021, full-service domestic giant BonelliErede also launched a multidisciplinary ESG group in response to the major ESG challenges facing today’s corporate world.

Other notable initiatives include Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati‘s recent development of Compliance Day, which dedicates itself to corporate compliance matters and is attended by professionals, authorities and trade associations.

Additional high-profile movements between practices include Linklaters‘ late 2021 recruitment of an experienced real estate team from DLA Piper, including Italy real estate practice head Francesco De Blasio; and during 2022, Herbert Smith Freehills hired compliance specialist Enrico Maria Mancuso in February to lead its corporate crime and investigations department in Milan from Pedersoli Studio LegalePavia e Ansaldo hired Roberto Iaia as tax litigation head from Studio Legale Tributario Francesco Moschetti in April; and in November Gianni & Origoni‘s former environmental law head Antonella Capria joined Legance – Avvocati Associati. Other firms boosting their tax departments include DWF, which welcomed transactional tax expert Ottavia Orlandoni as partner from AndPartners Tax and Law Firm in July.

Brand new law firms are also being launched. In late 2022, boutique firm Green Horse Legal Advisory (Green Horse), which is exclusively dedicated to the green economy and sustainable energy transition, spun out of the Italian offices of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Orrick)’s Italy offices, the 21-strong group including Green Horse managing partner Carlo Montella, and former Orrick partner Andrea Gentili, and Orrick of counsels Celeste Mellone and Maria Teresa Solaro. The two firms have, nonetheless, announced a non-exclusive best friends’ agreement.

Some large domestic Italian firms continue to look beyond Italy as part of their expansion plans. In March 2022, BonelliErede entered into a cooperation  agreement with Zahaf & Partners, a leading Libyan law firm with extensive experience in dispute resolution, litigation, arbitration and project finance, the collaboration enabling BonelliErede to expand its presence in the region.