Opinion | 14-07-15

Italy: a market on its way to recovery

The Italian market crisis seems to be on its way out and there are signs of recovery and general optimism. In this article Cristiano Pettinelli highlights where in the legal market there is particular positivity and where the demand is for lawyers. 


With regard to the legal recruitment market, there can be no doubt that 2015 will mark a turnaround, following two years of considerable uncertainty and lack of investment on the part of law firms and tax consultancies. Law firms in particular have reversed the trend and are also investing in more experienced and more senior lawyers, after having focused mainly on relatively junior profiles (1-3 years’ PQE) in the past two years. 


This trend reversal is mainly due to the growing number of incoming deals, deriving from both the domestic and international markets, particularly those of the US and UK.  


As far as areas of expansion are concerned, 2015 seems destined to go down in history as the year in which the real estate market reversed its downward trend, with Italian based companies as the main target, and Milan rising to 12th position in Europe for its power to instil confidence in real estate investors. Directly linked to real estate deals is the practice of corporate/M&A which has registered some decidedly positive figures in the first quarter of 2015. In terms of volume, this business has grown by 17.6%, for a total of 200 deals, whose value has increased by 212.5% to Euros 25 billion. 


As well as corporate and real estate deals, banking and finance, restructuring and regulatory matters are enjoying a particularly favourable period. Many law and tax firms are looking to attract mid to senior lawyers (both with and without a client following), who have built up solid experience in the field and are able to manage clients and cases with a considerable degree of autonomy. There is also a noticeable increase in the demand for senior lawyers in litigation practices.


Also with regard to the tax sector, the market trend is also one of growth. Italian and international companies, as well as small firms, are seeking the services of professionals in the areas of income tax, VAT, transfer pricing, international and financial taxation and voluntary disclosure, in both judicial and extra-judicial proceedings.


Alongside the opportunities offered by larger multidisciplinary law firms, there is a growing number of interesting opportunities in the boutique firms which, in recent years, have been achieving considerable success thanks to a high degree of specialisation in niche areas such as administrative law, structured finance, financial services and regulatory affairs, compliance, fiscal law, employment and corporate restructuring. 


However, as far as the market for international lawyers is concerned, many law firms, both in Italy and elsewhere, are opening their doors to UK qualified solicitors across capital markets, banking and corporate areas. This trend is due to the considerable increase in the number of firms coming in from the UK, the fact that many standard documents adopted in corporate and banking transactions are subject to English law and to more intense relations with foreign clients and law firms. 


In conclusion, the Italian legal market is in a state of intense activity and the signs of recovery registered to date allow for an encouraging optimism with regard to growth and investments. The coming months will be crucial and, if the current trend is confirmed, we can be certain that Italy will once more play an important role in the European legal market. 


For more information on the market or to discuss current opportunities please contact Cristiano Pettinelli on +39 335 642 6858 or via email on [email protected]