Orrick cites firmwide sector focus as second large Italian team departs, joining BonelliErede

Both long-serving co-founders of US firm’s Italian arm have left this week, following departues for Hogan Lovells and now BonelliErede

Alessandro De Nicola Image courtesy of BonelliErede

Orrick has seen 15 Milan-based compliance and IP lawyers leave for Italian heavyweight BonelliErede, just a few days after a 23-lawyer M&A and finance team joined Hogan Lovells.  

The team joining BonelliErede is led by Alessandro De Nicola, Orrick’s former Italy senior partner. He will join the Italian independent firm’s legal risk, compliance and investigations department alongside partners Marco Dell’Antonia and Marco Mancino, of counsel Laura Cappiello, a senior counsel and six associates. Meantime partner Ivan Rotunno will join the IP, privacy and IT law department alongside of counsel Michele Bertani and a pair of associates.  

De Nicola is joining Bonelli after more than 20 years at Orrick, where he co-founded the firm’s Italian practice alongside Patrizio Messina, leader of the team that decamped to Hogan Lovells earlier this week. Wishing both partners well and thanking them for their contribution to the firm, Orrick pointed to its strategy of “focusing on sectors and practices that connect with our strengths globally”.

Bonelli highlighted the team’s strength in legal risk management and compliance and investigations, which it said combined with its expertise in privacy law, cybersecurity and IP made the group “unique in the legal landscape of integrated compliance”. 

It added the hire was part of a wider strategy to consolidate the two departments into a practice that would be the market’s “go-to advisor for decisions concerning corporate governance, the decision-making process, legal risk management and internal investigations”. 

At Orrick De Nicola was also previously a member of the global board of directors and European corporate group leader and brings extensive experience in commercial and corporate law, M&A, competition law and corporate governance to his new firm. His compliance practice is ranked Band 1 by Chambers, which highlights his expertise in GDPR, Law 231 models, international sanctions and ISO 37001 compliance.  

His team’s arrival at BonelliErede brings the firm’s headcount to around 800, including 92 partners. It marks its first large-scale hire under the leadership of Eliana Catalano and Massimiliano Danusso, who took over as managing partner and chairman respectively at the beginning of the year.  

The start of their terms coincided with the firm launching a new five-year strategic plan built around international growth, innovation and investment in young talent.   

“We’re delighted to welcome this team,” Catalano and Danusso said in a joint statement. “Our goal is to continue to strengthen the firm’s leadership in Italy and international standing. Their arrival marks another step towards that goal, in line with the pillars underlying our strategic plan – including bringing on the best professional skills.”  

The firm has had its own large-scale exits over the past year, losing a 16-lawyer M&A team last July to PedersoliGattai – the 64-partner firm that formed at the start of the year through the merging of Italian firms Pedersoli and Gattai Minoli Partners.  

It also lost an 18-lawyer tax team last summer to Milan rival Legance and in February saw a nine-lawyer M&A group defect to Chiomenti.  

Following the team’s departure Orrick said it will have 10 partners and 30 other lawyers in Italy.  

A firm spokesperson commented: “We are grateful to [Messina] and [De Nicola] for founding our Italian practice and helping us attract our top quality team. We will miss them and their teams and we wish them well.” 

“These moves reflect a strategy our firm has pursued for some time – focusing on sectors and practices that connect with our strengths globally and address the needs of the most innovative clients in adapting to a digital and data-driven world. We greatly look forward to the next chapter of Orrick in Italy with a strong focus on venture capital, where we have the number one team in the Italian market and across Europe, M&A and private equity, private credit, fintech and multijurisdictional investigations.” 

Orrick also pointed to its firmwide strategy in 2020, when a highly regarded 10-lawyer London property team joined Forsters in London.

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