Boies Schiller Flexner sets up shop in Italy

The turbulent American litigation boutique has raided RP Legal & Tax to set up an Italian outpost.

Posted Wednesday, November 17th 2021
Boies Schiller Flexner sets up shop in Italy

US litigation boutique Boies Schiller Flexner has made a surprise move: it has set up a European office in Milan, only its second office outside the US, nabbing four partners and 11 more junior lawyers from RP Legal & Tax to do so.

Recent years have not been kind to Boies Schiller Flexner, once one of America’s most profitable firms. Between 2018 and 2020 it lost 40% of its lawyers, and last year the firm saw profits per partner drop by around 30%. The fallout began as #MeToo reached its height: firm co-founder David Boies received no small amount of internal and external criticism for his aggressive tactics in representing Harvey Weinstein. More recently, he took flak for his propinquity with Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who is currently standing trial and facing up to 20 years in prison for fraud. The firm has been losing not just regular partners but several members of its management committee; in addition, London-based partner Natasha Harrison stepped down as deputy chair after less than a year in the role, and is now leaving the firm entirely.

But the firm has also managed to attract talent in America, hiring a partner from Reed Smith and senior lawyers from the Department of Justice and US district courts. Neither has its battered brand deterred Italian lawyers: M&A and tax expert Luigi Macioce will be leading Boies Schiller Flexner Italy, supported by private wealth partner Alessia Allegretti and litigation partners Stefano Zonca and Giancarlo Morelli. They will be joined by at least nine associates and two counsel. All joiners are from respected Italian firm RP Legal & Tax.

It’s clear that Boies Schiller Flexner Italy’s primary strengths will be, at least at first, in dispute resolution and advising high-net-worth individuals; its two counsels, Barbara Stramignoni and Valeria Valentini, will bring a white-collar crime and compliance angle.

According to US-based co-managing partner Alan Vickery, the Milan office will act as “a gateway to the EU, something of particular importance post-Brexit”, and that the firm could now better “advise Italian and EU companies in their US-based work”.

“With our new office and partners, the firm is well-positioned to handle US-based litigation for Italian clients,” added co-managing partner Sigrid McCawley, “and we anticipate that our existing clients with legal challenges in the region will benefit from BSF having an established presence in Italy.”

Straight off the bat, Boies Schiller Flexner’s 15-lawyer Milan office is almost as large as the firm’s 16-lawyer London office, which was founded in 2014. And the Milan office is only the beginning of the firm’s Italian ambition. “Our next office in Europe will not be in another country,” said Boies. “It will probably be to develop the Italian presence by opening in Rome.”