The last twelve months have been a time of expansion for numerous Italian law firms. Many of the most sought-after destinations – such as New York, London and China – are now home to branches of the country’s firms. The feeling in its legal sector has changed; no longer are firms content with merely having a desk in a certain region, they now want to have a flag in the ground, a go-to place which represents their organisation and feet on the ground so that the breadth of cases they take on widens.
Alberto Toffoletto, managing partner at NCTM, an Italian firm with six offices in Milan, Rome, Verona, Brussels, London and Shanghai, has commented: “In order to develop an international strategy you need a certain size. Before that, it really is almost impossible to do it. When you start to have a development abroad, it’s because your size allowed you to dedicate the capability for the people to the project.”
For smaller firms, the time zone may be a real issue and there could be a lack of capability to open a big office. However, there can be other initiatives at work when moving overseas, as Toffoletto explains: “The strategy [in China] was to try to support Italian companies investing in the region and to attract Chinese investors investing in Italy. What surprised me was the fact that we increased the number of Italian clients that discovered us while over there.”
One thing is for sure, with such widespread expansion into strong legal markets, Italy is establishing itself as a real player on the global legal stage. It is very likely that the next few years will see demand for Italian speakers in firms around the world boom. And if you are working in Italy already, watch out – your next case may take you further afield than you think.