Linklaters kicks off Italy disputes practice with hire from ex-ally Gianni

Linklaters is set to launch an Italian litigation practice with the hire of Milan partner Alessandro Villani from former ally-turned-adversary Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners.

Villani, a former Allen & Overy senior associate, will join the magic circle firm as a partner later this year, with an exact starting date unconfirmed. He focuses on commercial and banking disputes, insolvency cases and contentious regulatory matters.

Villani, who will be based in Milan, becomes the firm’s first litigator on the ground in Italy, where Linklaters has offices in both Milan and Rome. Linklaters global managing partner Simon Davies highlighted litigation as a growth area for the firm earlier this month when it announced its financial results for 2011-12 (6 July 2012).

The hire follows a sequence of lateral moves in the Italian market, with a team from defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf participating in the launch of Grimaldi Studio Legale (15 May 2012) and DLA Piper taking on 20 lawyers from Grimaldi’s predecessor Grimaldi e Associati (8 May 2012).

Meanwhile, Ashurst this year launched in Rome (4 March 2011) and added a Milan team from a local firm (12 April 2012).

Linklaters ended its alliance with Gianni in 2004 after it became apparent that a merger was not on the cards (15 March 2004). Linklaters later sued its erstwhile best friend over a negligence claim involving a suit against the UK firm from Credit Suisse (21 March 2011).

Linklaters Italy managing partner Andrea Arosio said in a statement: “We’ve been looking at establishing litigation capability in Italy for some time, and we see Alessandro’s hire as an important step in the development of the Milan office.”