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Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe has created a new status of special counsel to help develop its fledgling Italian practice and is in the throes of negotiating a string of deals with high-profile individuals.
The US firm is also considering rolling out the new status to its French operation.
In Italy it has just launched in Milan with a bulk hire of Ernst & Young lawyers. Milan head Alessandro De Nicola has now negotiated retainers with banking and public law expert Professor Fabio Roversi Monaco, Professor Fabio Gobbo, a former commissioner of the Italian Antitrust Authority who is now managing director of the national grid, and Nicolò Zanon di Valgiurata, a professor of public and constitutional law. He is also in talks with Professor Angelo Piazza, a former government minister and judge. They are all prominent members of Bologna University.
The approach reflects Italy's personality-driven business environment.
David Syed, Orrick's managing partner for Europe, said: "The concept of special counsel enables us to work with some of Italy's top guns without taking them away from their other activities. It's a very novel approach."
Roversi Monaco and Piazza share a Rome office that Orrick will be able to use until its official Rome launch.