Managing partner Francesco Sciaudone: “Ours is a model that did not exist before. We are able to follow our clients around the world with a glocal logic, guaranteeing multidisciplinary services. We count on partners such as Michel Bray in London and Daniel Fesler in Brussels and on partners such as the Chinese of Yingke, a firm that alone has 15,000 professionals and more than 120 offices worldwide’.
by Guido Talarico
Made in Italy’ is a qualifying indication of origin, so much so that it is ranked 7th in terms of reputation among consumers worldwide. An indication of quality that has nevertheless kept out a sector, that of ‘law firms’, i.e. large law firms, where Italians have so far been unable to find an adequate space internationally. Recently, however, something has changed. Grimaldi Alliance, a law firm of Roman origin, has been able to reverse the course that saw Italy excluded from the great circle of ‘law firms’, conquering in a very short time an important space at global level. To understand the origins, the reasons and, above all, the developments of this success, we spoke with Francesco Sciaudone, the lawyer and professor who is not only the Managing Partner of Grimaldi Alliance, as we soberly read on its website, but much more. It is to his intuition, his professional skills and his (apparently frenetic) activism that we owe the enormous distance that Grimaldi Alliance has come in a short time. So let us hear from his words the story of the birth and growth of this law firm, which for the first time brings Italian companies a qualified interlocutor capable of following them in multidisciplinary terms all over the world.
Mr. Sciaudone, Grimaldi Alliance was born in January 2023. In just eight months, you have opened 84 offices, contracted 85 members and involved 500 professionals. Furthermore, you act in 26 practice areas and 70 jurisdictions, with more than 20 partnerships. As if that were not enough, you have won more than 20 awards. Can you explain how this project of yours came about and the reasons for your success?
“We started GA as an internationalisation project in mid-2019 – after a long professional history that had already led Grimaldi to be a partner of Clifford Chance in the 1990s – changing method: creating a national and international network, with a multidisciplinary approach. In spite of covids, economic and geopolitical crises, we started 2023 with the new brand Grimaldi Alliance (GA), registered in the world, which since January has combined our national and international coverage: GA for Italy and World! We are very proud that so many professionals (about 2,000 people, of which about 500 between Italy – where we have 9 offices, with Milan, Rome, Turin, Treviso, Padua, Verona, Naples and Bari – Brussels, London and Paris) work every day in the national and international market proud to be part of GA. And that is without counting that our Chinese partner, Yingke, alone has 15,000 professionals with over 120 offices worldwide, yet proudly presents itself as our global partner, putting its name next to ours! We are trying to make everyone understand that together – zusammen say the Germans – we go far. Ours was born and continues to be a long-term project, to create the first true professional reality of Italian origin capable of addressing the glocal needs that are typical of our times’.
In fact, the Grimaldi Alliance has changed the concept of internationalisation, marking a path in which few Italian firms had ever ventured before. What is your international growth strategy?
“We started from the simple consideration that of the large countries, Italy was the only one that had not created its own international network in the world of professional services. Although Italian companies and clients exist in every country in the world, never had a professional network been built to accompany them. But we don’t want to and we are not just Italians, we want to evolve this reality towards one increasingly international reality! We are doing this with very valuable professionals – from the former MP of Clifford Chance, Michel Bray, who leads our presence in the UK, to the former MP of Baker&Mackenzie, Daniel Fesler, who leads our presence in Belgium, and therefore at the European Community – as well as with all the MPs of our partners who sit on GA’s International Leadership Committee’.
What are the criteria that guide you in opening new locations? Does the partner come first or the market first?
“The rule is simple, there must be market and partner: only then do we open a presence in a new country. In the first 7 months of 2023 alone, we started operations in Morocco, France, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Canada, Mexico, with as many high standing partners in each of these jurisdictions. To understand if we are doing well, we only need to think that the largest firm in the world, Yingke, which would have all the means to do without us, wants to be with us in all these countries’.
Which are the most promising markets for you?
“We are seeing that the demand for support is present in all markets, what is missing is an adequate structuring of the offer: we are focused on that. We are doing this in the area of PNRR – we have a dedicated team, led by Bernardo Giorgio Mattarella, and we are editing a publication with Il Sole 24 Ore to explain the opportunities – of ESG, of Cybersecurity, to give some examples. We are doing this on the international markets by organising the GA Annual Meeting on 27 and 28 October in Milan, which will be attended by all partners from all over the world and at which we will organise meeting sessions with our main clients”.
You say that Grimaldi Alliance is a “One Stop Shop”, can you explain what is behind this definition for a large international firm like yours?
“We want to give clients the simplicity of having one phone number and one email account to use to manage their business. This means selling companies from Naples to Romania, handling Romanian, Italian, UK law matters, without having to move, or buying a company in Saudi Arabia, again without having to look for 10 professionals for the different aspects of the deal. Or even being able to follow complex transactions between Christmas and Epiphany in Egypt, ensuring a successful outcome without ruining anyone’s holiday! Or again, follow clients active in the Triveneto region – where with the Treviso, Padua and Verona offices we have over 100 people and are certainly the main reality in the area – for complex transactions in Spain. Or handling complex litigation in Poland. The perspective that must be underlined, however, is that the professional network we have put together is now capable of originating and managing activities that also go from Greece to Serbia or from China to Colombia. By this I mean that the international dimension is now increasingly evident. We still have a lot of work to do – and we are doing it and will do it even more by the end of the year – in order to have an even more international GA by 2024, but the course is set.
What is your relationship with your customers? It seems to us that you have also innovated in this direction….
“With customers we are trying to get the concept of partnership across: we are not a cost, to be cut! We are – if we are able – the solution to problems or the opportunity for growth. Once again it is about working on the supply side! Too many have resigned themselves to price competition and to thinking that ‘one is worth one’ and so we might as well pay less! We have to understand that we know and can be useful and deliver important results for customers and that ‘usefulness’ and ‘results’ are the professional services we render, not hours or paper’.
How is a law firm of Italian origin perceived on the international stage, where competition even in your sector is fierce?
“The Italian way of doing things has helped us a lot in the birth and growth of GA! No law firm management manual would have legitimised such a project and ensured its realisation. Now, however, GA must become more and more international, European, with an increasing role for our Brussels office, without of course losing the Italian character of the project, but making it more and more adapted to the multi-jurisdiction business model. Competition is not the problem, the problem is the offer, we must be able to offer the ocean blue, highlighting all the differentiating factors that characterise us, to avoid ending up in the ocean red where competition is on price and costs to be cut. Today we are ‘national’ (no other professional reality can boast our presence in the territory), international (no one can today offer coverage in over 70 jurisdictions, which can be reached from Parma, Turin or Verona or even Brussels), multidisciplinary (we have a growing number of accountants and company accountants, as well as advisors, who work alongside the lawyers)”.
What is Grimaldi Alliance preparing for 2023?
“In the last quarter of 2023 we are preparing to open our own presences with partnerships in Uzbekistan, Japan, Thailand, as well as to open our own offices in Bologna, Catania, Brescia and maybe even Dubai. We have many professionals who are asking to work with us, so we will certainly continue our careful hiring activity, in the different markets and business segments. We will also do this thanks to the renewed governance of GA, which has seen the expansion of the Strategic Advisory Committee at the national level and the International Leadership Committee at the international level, as well as thanks to the important availability of all our partners, the head office managers, with their respective committees, the coordinators of the areas of expertise, with their coordination committee, the human resources committee, and the marketing and ESG committees. In short, we have evolved the governance in line with GA’s evolution, so as to better face the upcoming challenges. Among these, the most important of all is and must be that of dedicating attention to young people, making them curious, passionate and grow, possibly with GA: we have an internship programme that will bring mobility between offices at all levels, in Italy and abroad, with the aim of investing – even in a season of AI and legal tech – more and more on the human factor”.
(Associated Medias) – All rights reserved