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Italian firm Studio Legale Sutti (SLS) is opening satellite offices in Romania and Bulgaria to capitalise on the strong presence of Italian companies in Eastern Europe.
Three partners and five assistants have been recruited from local firms to set up the Bucharest office and SLS is in the process of recruiting eight lawyers in Sofia. The offices are due to open by the end of the year.
The new offices will take a different approach to the firm's existing international offices in Rome, Milan, Genoa, London and Tokyo, which rely heavily on referral work. Managing partner Stefano Sutti says: "In the UK and Japan our offices are selling Italian legal services to local clients and lawyers. We play an interface role in London with 90 per cent of our instructions coming from law firms. But in Eastern Europe the situation will be exactly the opposite. We will be selling Bulgarian and Romanian legal services to Italian clients. We are not there to find local clients."
The firm is still exploring the possibility of expanding into the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia and Albania as well as opening a Brussels office, possibly via a partnership. Sutti says: "We are aiming to establish an SLS network in southern Europe."
SLS merged with Genoa-based Studio Pennisi in June (The Lawyer, 19 June) and is now rumoured to be in talks with a Turin-based firm. The second merger would give it full coverage of the Italian north-west and bring it closer to the top of the list of independent Italian firms in size and turnover.