Bonelli’s £5m partners lead the way in Europe

Italy’s top three firms last year retained their positions as the Continent’s most profitable of the 100 largest firms, with top partners at Bonelli Erede Papalardo earning a staggering £5m.


Italy’s top three firms last year retained their positions as the Continent’s most profitable of the 100 largest firms, with top partners at Bonelli Erede Papalardo earning a staggering £5m.

Despite a slow year and a scarcity of big-ticket M&A, Bonelli secured the top spot in the profit table, with average profit per equity partner (PEP) last year standing at £1.2m. Like many Italian firms, it operates an extremely wide equity spread, from around £350,000 to £5m, research for The Lawyer Euro 100 reveals. Franco Bonelli and Sergio Erede are well known as two of Italy’s highest-earning lawyers, but the firm’s junior partners, while very well paid, are remunerated nowhere near as well.

Bonelli’s work for longstanding client Enel on the €1.48bn (£1.02bn) Milan Stock Exchange IPO of Enel subsidiary Transmissione Elettricita Rete Nazionale was among the key deals to put a spark into what was otherwise a fairly barren year in the Italian corporate market. It also helped Bonelli notch up a decent 5.6 per cent increase in turnover to reach £61.4m.

Like its two major competitors, Chiomenti Studio Legale saw significant headcount growth during the last calendar year. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s allied firm enjoyed a rapid expansion, with partner numbers rising from 25 to 31. Turnover rose to £50.2m, but it was still a tough year for the corporate-dominated practice, with PEP falling to £857,000.

Fifty-three partner Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners, Italy’s largest firm, registered PEP of £892,900 on a £62m turnover. In comparison, the most profitable UK firm Slaughter and May had PEP of £819,000 last year.