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GERMAN firm Haarmann, Hemmelrath & Partner is set to become only the second German firm to enter the Italian legal market when it opens a Milan office early next year.
Haarmanns, which had a formal association with Taylor Joynson Garrett until recently and still maintains some loose links with the UK firm, also opened a Paris office in July this year.
The Milan office will initially be staffed by 10 or 11 fee earners, including three partners and a mix of lawyers and accountants. Haarmanns is a multidisciplinary partnership (MDP) set up 10 years ago when six lawyers and auditors left the accountancy firm Peat Marwick Mitchell to found their own law firm. According to the firm's co-founder, Wilhelm Haarmann, it now ranks as one of Germany's top five law firms. Germany is one of the few countries that allows MDPs.
One partner will join Haarmanns in Italy from the Milan office of Graham & James, another firm with which Haarmanns had an association until recently, while another joins from the Rome international tax office of Italian foreign trade minister Augusto Fantozzi. A third partner joins from Haarmanns' Munich office, where he has spent the past four years setting up an Italian practice staffed by several Italian lawyers and tax practitioners. Many of the lawyers from the Munich team will relocate to the new Milan office.
Another co-founder of the firm, Alexander Hemmelrath, said its international Italian practice was already "considerable" and the Milan move made perfect sense.
US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton became the third major US firm to open in Italy when it opened in Rome last month. Several leading UK firms are also looking at ways of entering the lucrative Italian market.
Meanwhile, Haarmanns has said it intends to expand its German operations over the next year with plans to recruit at least 30 extra fee earners.
Haarmans has existing offices in Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Tokyo, Prague and Paris.