With Silvio Berlusconi reinstalled as Italy’s prime minister, observers could be forgiven for thinking the country has not moved on since 2003. But they would be wrong.

The business and legal landscapes have changed a lot in the past five years and industry has become more outward-looking. Italian companies have begun to take more interest in developing markets such as China, while energy company ENI has made investments in Russia.

International firms have seen opportunities to link a strong Italian practice to offices in other countries. Linklaters has grown its presence significantly, while Latham & Watkins launched an Italian law practice with the hire of five partners from Bonelli Erede Pappalardo.

All this points to positive progress in the country – an unusually upbeat assessment in Europe’s economic climate. Law firms are all betting that the next five years will be lucrative: will they be proved right?