Bonelli partners agree three-year ‘loyalty’ lock-in

The partners of Italian firm Slaughter and May best friend Bonelli Erede Pappalardo have agreed to a three-year lock-in, as the firm continues its partnership restructuring.

stefano simontacchi bonelli
Stefano Simontacchi

The firm’s partnership confirmed the move about a month ago, following the agreement of a three-year strategic plan last May. Last year the firm also elected two new managing partners, Stefano Simontacchi and Marcello Giustiniani, to replace Alberto Saravalle (22 May 2013).

Simontacchi told The Lawyer that the lock-in was a “loyalty agreement” designed to ensure the firm could implement the raft of reforms proposed last year. Those included restructuring the firm’s lockstep, making career progression more transparent, and reviewing associate pay.

“We’re all in the same boat and moving in the same direction,” Simontacchi said. He added that the move would help Bonelli to improve its relationships with clients.

The agreement follows the departures last year of partners including arbitrator Luca Radicati di Brozolo, who left to set up a boutique (12 June 2013) and competition partner Luciano di Via, who moved to Clifford Chance (11 July 2013). Radicati di Brozolo yesterday announced he would be joining Fountain Court as a door tenant.

Simontacchi said the departures had not prompted the lock-in, pointing out that Radicati di Brozolo left mainly due to issues with conflicts of interest and that Bonelli maintained good relations with him.

The news of the lock-in comes as Bonelli launches a criminal law department with the hire of noted criminal specialist Francesco Sbisà. Sbisà joins the firm later this year with a number of associates. He was previously a name partner at boutique Dominioni Gobbi Sbisà.

Simontacchi explained the hire was in response to increasing amounts of criminal-related work, and Bonelli wanted to develop its own capability rather than always refer work to specialised firms.

Bonelli does not release its financial results, but Simontacchi claimed 2013 had been a record year with revenue up almost 18 per cent from 2012. He attributed the strong performance to the firm’s ability to offer standalone advice in areas such as tax and employment, rather than these departments merely being ancillary to the corporate team.