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Taylor Wessing is set to open in Italy by the end of the summer as the firm pushes through its ambitions to grow its international network.
The firm is in talks with a group of Italian partners about opening an office in Milan.
The firm is also seriously considering opening a second office in mainland China. It already has an office in Shanghai and is considering launching in Beijing. Both outpost plans are being driven primarily by client relationships from the German end of the business.
The international growth is the result of a consultation among the partnership that reported last month. The firm had identified the Netherlands, Spain and Italy as the most likely destinations for new Taylor Wessing offices. The partners concluded that a best friends policy would continue to be most appropriate for the Netherlands and Spain, but that there was a need for a presence in Italy.
A spokeperson for Taylor Wessing said the firm had "very good relationships" with firms in Spain and the Netherlands and was looking to build on them, but was "not thinking of expanding" into those countries. She said the firm was "reviewing its options" in Italy.
Taylor Wessing has a number of strong referral relationships with Italian firms including Studio Legale Tonucci, which, like Taylor Wessing, is a member of the TechLaw Group. A merger with a firm the size of Tonucci is unlikely and Tonucci itself is already in advanced merger talks with Italy's pre-eminent IP practice Franzosi Dal Negro Pensato Setti. A deal is expected by the summer.
While Taylor Wessing is negotiating with local teams to launch the new office, it may yet attempt a takeover of one of Italy's smaller independent firms. As one Milan-based Italian partner said: "The move from Germany makes sense as there are fewer competitors in that area than from the UK."