McDermott Will & Emery, Italy

McDermott Will & Emery, Italy” />Firm: McDermott Will & Emery, Italy
Managing partner: Massimo Trentino
Total number of lawyers: 22
Total number of partners: Seven
Turnover: €5m (£3.3m)
Main practice areas: Banking, M&A, private equity, tax
Key clients: Barclays, Dexia, Ducati, Guess Jeans, Luxotica, Morgan Stanley, Sanpaolo IMI

Like many international firms that rushed into the Italian market, McDermott Will & Emery had trouble establishing itself there. Its merger with respected Italian independent firm Carnelutti fell apart after two years, ending in October 2005.

Most would have given up at that point, but McDermott kept its place on the peninsula, managing to hold on to the Rome office.

McDermott’s managing partner in Italy Massimo Trentino says: “There was a friendly unwinding of the merger. McDermott decided to keep the business in Rome. The lawyers there were slightly younger and the office was fully integrated since the beginning.”

The demerger stripped the firm of around 50 lawyers as well as its presence in Milan.

Despite this, the lawyers in the Rome office have had their hands full with a range of private equity and general M&A deals in the year since the break-up.

McDermott advised private equity fund JH Partners on the purchase of luxury linen company Frette for e120m (£79.09m), as well as steering Munich Re, the largest shareholder in Italian bank UniCredito, through the bank’s merger with German financial powerhouse HVB. The challenge now for Trentino and McDermott is to use the Rome office as a foot in the door of the Italian market and to begin growing on the peninsula without the need for mergers.

Trentino plans to take the firm beyond being simply a corporate resource, adding a variety of practice areas to match McDermott’s full-service approach.

Most recently McDermott scooped up a three-partner tax team from Trivoli & Associati, which boosted the firm’s partner numbers to seven from four. The tax practice will give advice on the tax elements of M&A deals as well as handling any day-to-day work required by clients.

But Trentino is not stopping there. “One of the most important things we’re looking for is IP,” he says. “We need a partner to coordinate with other offices in the US and Europe.”

As well as IP, building a general commercial litigation practice comes near the top of Trentino’s to do list.

Organic growth is taken care of thanks to the McDermott University, a type of internal training programme tailored to the needs of associates. The Italian branch also sends a number of junior lawyers on secondments to the firm’s offices in Chicago, New York and Washington DC.

A Milan office is the next logical step once McDermott bolsters its Rome seat. Trentino says: “We’ll keep the trend of growth by including other departments. When the opportunity arises we’ll seriously look at Milan.”