Having studied philosophy in high school I chose a subject that, while not too distant, would also give the prospect of some future income. I had registered at medical school to specialise in psychiatry, but soon realised it was not really my area.
As in most Italian universities, my legal training was extremely theoretical – good in terms of scientific approach, but totally lacking a practical aspect.
The last 10 years have deeply changed the legal profession. Lawyers have been turned into managers, making them more aware of the competition on pricing and creating new challenges in the professional environment. The issues prompted by the Brexit referendum bring a totally new set of questions and add to the general uncertainty.
My practice has always been a mix of very different specialisations and I have tried to maintain flexibility in my approach to the legal world. The complexity of the issues I have faced during my legal career as a finance lawyer has helped me to better understand the dynamics of the modern world.
My decision to leave Allen & Overy after 18 years to join BonelliErede as managing partner of the London office has certainly been a very exciting career moment.
I have been fortunate and my practice has touched many fields of expertise. As a financial expert, I was asked to help in criminal cases where the banks had been accused of certain financial crimes. That has been a very interesting experience. I have also advised the Italian banking association and a large number of its members in the Lehman bankruptcy cases in Europe and the US.
More recently, I have advised financial institutions in relation to complex litigations on derivative products and we have won their cases in front of Italian courts. Advising financial institutions acting as arrangers in a multi-billion euros buy-back of bonds issued by local authorities and sponsored by the Italian Treasury was a very exciting transaction.
The complexity of the issues I have faced as a finance lawyer have helped me to better understand the dynamics of the modern world.
The hardest clients are those who believe they know everything about the legal implications of their deal even before speaking to their lawyers.
Lost in the changes I’ve seen in the profession is clearly the feeling of running an ‘art’ rather than a business. Lawyers now need to become business managers focusing on tight management of resources, revenues, expenses and billing targets in a way that 25 years ago would have been inconceivable.
What has been gained is a more sophisticated and in-depth analysis of the legal issues. In many areas, the profession is becoming more similar to an exact science.
Specialisation has been a good thing. But the over-specialisation I have witnessed in recent years, particularly in the Anglo-Saxon firm, is not a particularly good thing.
I hope that the general feeling of working while managing a constant emergency, which has accompanied lawyers for the last 10 years, will end, giving everybody a bit more serenity in the day-to-day work.