Bonelli and the boutique

There have been a few changes at Italian firm Bonelli Erede Pappalardo over the past month. First off, the firm elected two managing partners in a significant shake-up of governance.

Yesterday’s news was that litigation and arbitration partner Luca Radicati di Brozolo is leaving to set up a boutique with a Bonelli senior associate.

The two events are of course not linked – Radicati di Brozolo is leaving in October on friendly terms with Bonelli – but are all part of an evolution in the Italian legal market.

The first trend is one of institutionalisation. While Italy remains one of the most stubbornly traditional jurisdictions in Europe, the biggest firms know they have to match their competitors in other markets to pick up work these days. Bonelli’s restructure is designed to ensure a smooth generational shift from founders to the new generation, rewarding partners for their contribution to the firm as a whole and making sure that clients have an institutional rather than personal relationship.

The second is a growth in arbitration in Italy. As Radicati di Brozolo says, Italy is embracing arbitration more now and is playing a more high-profile role in the arbitration world. Indeed ex-Bonelli partner Andrea Carlevaris is now secretary-general at the International Chamber of Commerce’s Court of Arbitration. In a boutique, Radicati di Brozolo thinks, he will be able to better serve his clients without fear of conflicts.

More developments of both sorts are likely in the future as Italy continues to play catch-up with the rest of Europe.