Interview with: Margherita Covi, Senior Partner

Ichino Brugnatelli e Associati | View firm profile

Ms Margherita Covi, lawyer and Senior Partner of the firm, represents the values and mission of the firm and how all partners and associates, including fee-earners, manage to meet client’s needs despite changing sceneries, demands, and challenges.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate [law firm name] from your competitors?

Each of our associates has the chance to work with a small group of partners. This allows them to learn different working styles and different ways to manage the relationship with our clients. Along with dealing with a certain number of partners and with different types of clients (each partner has their own, covering on the whole all productive sectors), comes a more diversified knowledge and practical approach to each issue. This helps our associates to develop a more critical attitude while tackling each legal matter. We strongly believe that a diversified approach is useful in the area of legal services, too, and results in added value to the services that are rendered to our clients. Ideally, the structure of the firm is not a pyramid but more a prism.

Dealing with a certain number of partners also enhances the associates’ ability to develop a more responsible attitude towards their job, as they need to organise their agendas considering requests coming from the various partners they work with.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

The global sanitary crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak is certainly likely to force enterprises to structural changes in HR management. They will have to deal with the sanitary crisis, which entails reverting, whenever possible, to a smart working-based organization versus a more traditional on-site working organization. Our clients will need assistance while implementing the emergency measures adopted by the Government and while addressing new issues in the workplaces. Relationships with trade unions are likely to change into a new model. All the while, during and after the sanitary crisis they will need assistance as far as access to technical tools to address the reduction and suspension of their activities. So practices in both employment and social security areas are certainly bound to grow over the next 12 months.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

I am glad to say that over the years together with my fellow partners we have set up the humus for developing a very pleasant work atmosphere within our firm. We carefully assess our associates’ and employees’ performance and have set up a compensation scheme that is rewarding and aimed at the constant achievement of better results. We also take all measures to enhance the training of

both young and more mature lawyers. We believe that setting up a good work environment is the necessary basis to deliver our clients the best possible assistance.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Technology has dramatically changed society and human relationships over the last twenty years. The internet has changed the availability and accessibility of data and information throughout the whole world. Managing this change, reverting from a face-to-face relationship to a dematerialized one is only a natural consequence of this process. But it has to be done safeguarding the very special trust which is unique to the lawyer-client relationship.

As regards our judicial system, while the introductory phase of the ordinary judicial proceedings has been made telematic over the last two years, all hearings are still physically held before the judge. Therefore, considerable investments in technological hardware and software ought to be made by the State in order to achieve the complete telematic transformation of the judicial proceedings. Of course, we will be ready when this happens.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

I assisted a publicly owned company in the transition from the application of one national collective agreement to another, more suitable to its specific industry. A very delicate transition, entailing the need to address a certain number of employment-related issues such as the harmonization of employment conditions applied to the workforce, along with the trade unions’ judicial contestation of the operation. In the end the transition turned out to be a successful one and it undoubtedly added value to the company.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Uncertainty about the future scenarios of the economy as a result of the epidemiological crisis affecting not only our country and Europe but the whole world is likely to increase our clients’ need to seek our assistance in the short and in the medium run. On one hand, legislation needs to be interpreted and applied, on the other actions will need to be taken to address the consequences of this global phenomenon. We must be prepared to provide our clients with the necessary tools to face each aspect.