Global Rankings

International & Cross-Border Capabilities in Italy

International & Cross Border Capabilities: Italy Overview

What This Section Covers:

In the International & Cross Border Capabilities sections, Chambers and Partners highlights the law firms identified by clients as the best and most user-friendly to work with when matters involve international aspects, which require the lawyers to consider, manage and advise on issues that are going on across different countries and jurisdictions.

All the firms listed in this section offer strong abilities to serve clients who are seeking a legal team with significant resources in Italy, but also the ability to excel in international work.

Frequently, the firms specified have been picked out by clients for their strengths in some or all of the below:

  • co-ordinating advice on connected transactions, court procedures or regulatory issues in different countries as a lead counsel;
  • providing global reach and giving clients access to top-quality legal advice in all the markets where they need help;
  • providing seamless and integrated legal services to clients, which creates a user-friendly experience across borders; and
  • helping clients in international matters through specific knowledge or experience of sector or industry practices worldwide.

Global Trends in the Italian Market:

As Italy’s economy has shown clear signs of recovery over the last few years, the market has become increasingly shaped by the forces of globalisation. Different interviewees note an increase of inbound investment into Italy, particularly from Western Europe, and slightly less activity in the outbound space, but still mention a number of opportunities to tap into, which they expect to grow in the future.

Positive market trends have ensured a continued supply of cross-border matters for law firms present in the market. However, it is still rather a small group of competitors for global work, with only a few international firms with recognised success in building deep roots into the local market across many different areas of practice. International players have seen most success in particular fields of practice, especially in such core practice areas as finance, M&A and capital markets.

Leading Italian firms continue to enjoy a very strong share of international work in the market, performing well in the corporate M&A sphere. The major independent players have ventured on the path of international expansion to varying degrees and have become an increasingly attractive option for local companies going abroad, as well as multinational and foreign entities doing cross-border business with Italy.

Italian independent firms

The leading independent law firms in Italy have done well in keeping their prominent position in the market, and have close relationships with local clients, following them on investments abroad. They also profit from their strength in the domestic market for in-bound investments, where knowledge of the local law is key.

BonelliErede, Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners, and Chiomenti have stood out in the market in terms of their impact on an international scale. All offer significant cross-border experience, a network of relationships with other leading independent law firms in Europe and beyond, as well as a high-quality offering. The key element to their strategy, which remains appealing to clients, is their networks of partner firms: all have very strong relationships with other leading, top-tier practices across Europe.

However, the direction of these independent firms' international work has differed. Chiomenti stands out with its especially developed China practice, whereby the firm looks more to serve Asian clients on their inbound investments. BonelliErede and Gianni have both expanded in recent years, Gianni opening offices in Abu Dhabi and China, and BonelliErede opening offices in Dubai and Africa, focusing resources on helping clients in those regions, with very active foreign desks.

While most other Italian firms are typically occupied with complex domestic work within the Italian market, several other independent firms have also begun to evolve their work at the international level and are often seen co-leading matters with the foreign counsel firms.

International firms

International firms that have built a strong on-the-ground presence are often a preferred choice for clients when co-ordinating complex big-ticket cross-border work. Among the firms, there are differences identified by the market between a number of different approaches to international work.

Several have built a strong local presence in Italy and are perceived to be settled, integrated players within the local, as well as the international, market. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton stands out on this front, praised for hiring "local lawyers who embrace the culture and stay there for life." Clifford Chance is marked out by its excellent market feedback on complex international work led out of Italy, and for providing full-service support. There are slight differences within the magic circle group, as some firms are seen as being stronger in finance, such as Linklaters and Allen & Overy, whereas Freshfields is particularly recognised for its cross-border contentious practice and a more balanced approach to the corporate and finance practice areas in Italy.

US-centred firms with a strong presence in Italy are often focusing on a few key practice areas; examples include Latham & Watkins and White & Case which both have leading capital markets practices and are active in cross-border M&A.

Another notable presence is the wide-network approach of DLA Piper. The firm excels in compliance and technology work and is a very strong choice for clients on mid-market cross-border transactions, having an edge with its extensive network of offices.