Friends and enemies

Litigation is proving a hot topic in Europe this week with Linklaters announcing that it is poaching litigation partner Alessandro Villani from Italian law firm Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners to spearhead its new Italian litigation practice in Milan.

An interesting move, given that Gianni was Linklaters’ alliance partner until an acrimonious split saw the pair go their separate ways in 2004. Linklaters later sued its erstwhile best friend over a negligence claim involving a suit against the magic circle firm from Credit Suisse.

Linklaters’ hire is just the latest in a number of signs that things are hotting up in the Italian market, with a team from defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf participating in the launch of Grimaldi Studio Legale and DLA Piper taking on 20 lawyers from Grimaldi’s predecessor Grimaldi e Associati.

In other legal tie-ups, after several of Osborne Clarke’s European alliance members downgraded their relationship to just ‘best friends’ earlier this year, the firm’s merger with Spanish and Italian Alliance partners, Osborne Clarke Spain and SLA Studio Legale Associato, has finally gone live. The firm has also just announced major changes to its international management structure as it moves towards becoming a standalone European firm.

Meanwhile in France, as investigations begin into whether Yasser Arafat was poisoned, Parisian firm Fischer Tandeau de Marsac Sur & Partners has landed the lead role of acting on behalf of the widow of the former Palestinian leader.

And as technology companies continue to battle it out in the smartphone wars, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer experiences a double blow as its loses two major patent battles for Apple in London’s High Court and German lawyers ponder whether Microsoft’s decision to move its distribution centre from Germany to the Netherlands could affect the country’s reputation as a centre for patent litigation.