An Influential and Global Leader


Studio Legale Ichino Brugnatelli e Associati (Ichino Brugnatelli) is a wide-ranging Italian law firm, holding an outstanding reputation. Manuela Grassi tells us more about the firm and herself, as she features in the 2017 Global Excellence Awards as Most Influential Woman in Banking Law 2017 within Italy.

Based in Milan and founded in the second half of the 19th century, Ichino Brugnatelli assists a variety of clients, but mainly banks, financial institutions, pension funds, public companies, foreign and domestic corporations operating in different industries and sectors. Ichino Brugnatelli offers unparalleled multijurisdictional transactional, regulatory and advisory practices.

Manuela is senior partner of Ichino Brugnatelli and has been since 2006. She started her career there in 1993, focusing on corporate and banking, with expertise in M&A and bankruptcy law, in addition to a wide experience in litigation and arbitration. Manuela has assisted large group companies in corporate governance matters. She is the author of several articles on corporate and bankruptcy law which have been published in leading legal magazines.

Starting off, Manuela tells us a bit more about the firm and the type of work it does, describing the structure of the company, highlighting different departments and what transactions the team usually undertakes.

“The firm is structured into two departments, each with its own organisation of dedicated teams and staff. The department headed by myself and Francesco Brugnatelli is focused in banking and commercial litigation (including the rights of individuals and inheritance cases), arbitration proceedings, corporate and commercial law including mergers and acquisitions and bankruptcy law. We handle a wide variety of financial contracts and structured transactions, insolvency proceedings, corporate crisis and reorganisations, compositions (both in-court and out-of-court), liabilities and claw-back actions. In 2017, the department won the award as Best Boutique Law Firm of the year in the banking area.”

Researching every case and every client in-depth, the team at Ichino Brugnatelli analyse the client matter to gain a deep insight into every issue, operating with an innovative vision, and possessing a firm-wide dedication to professional development. Along with teamwork, these are all key features which characterise the identity of the firm. Staff have a first-class combination of thorough preparation and strong performance.

Commenting on team members working towards achieving the same goals, Manuela outlines the overall mission of the practice, listing what steps the firm will take in order to fulfil its mission. She alludes to the bilingual nature of staff, which helps each member of the team to succeed in their quest to go one step further for the clients with whom they work with.

“Firstly, the mission of our law firm is to cater to our clients’ needs and go the extra mile for them. In order to achieve this, we have set up wide professional teams, composed of highly qualified lawyers, fluent in English and French, meaning we are able to carry out sophisticated and complex deals, tailored to the best possible solution to the clients’ goals and to meet all deadlines.

“Secondly, each team is usually led by a partner who is directly involved in all stages of the activity. The firm’s mission is to provide high quality, creative, and result-oriented legal teams to individuals and businesses, and serve as a primary resource and partner in all aspects of clients’ business growth and development. Also, we have acquired an in-depth expertise in international commercial agreements, public procurement issues and in the real estate sector. We strive to be always well informed on the recent amendments to law and jurisprudence. In this regard, our studies and essays are published by various journals and reviews, and we organise conferences on a regular basis.”

Discussing what makes the firm unique, Manuela is keen to emphasise the high level of expertise and technical knowledge that each professional possesses. Building a formidable track record of successful transactional, contentious and regulatory advice across the spectrum of industry sectors is another aspect which differentiates the law firm from the rest.

“Over the past years, we have been able to make case-law precedent before the Court of Milan in the field of banking litigation, particularly in derivative securities, compound interest, current account contracts, credit, suretyship and international guarantees, leasing, factoring. Our firm has an excellent technical knowledge and is able to find creative solutions maintaining a strong Italian identity. In addition, we have a prestigious and professional background, being able to interrelate tradition to cutting edge assistance. Also, we have built a formidable track record of successful transactional, contentious and regulatory advice across the spectrum of industry sectors.”

Indeed, another factor in helping the firm distinguish itself from its competitors is Manuela herself, and she tells us how it feels to have been selected for this award. Manuela is working to share these goals with the younger generations in the field. She aims to be an example to upcoming lawyers and help the best to really fulfil their potential, something she comments on as she gives advice to those looking to reflect her success in their own careers.

“To be selected for this award is a significant reward to share with my team considering that we form a cohesive group, enhancing the practice and ensuring the client a successful service. This recognition is added to the one received in April 2017. On that date, I was awarded as ‘Lawyer of the Year in Banking’ during a ceremony held in Milan at Palazzo Mezzanotte headquarters of Borsa Italiana – the Milan Stock Exchange. The following was said regarding Manuela:

“She demonstrates a vast experience and in-depth knowledge of the dynamics of the judicial litigation and arbitration in the banking field which, with a unanimous opinion by clients and counterparties, brought her to become a lawyer of outstanding ability.

“The best advice I would give other women looking to succeed in the law field, is to have a great sense of self-abnegation and humility in continuing studying and research, with the spirit of commitment and not be discouraged in the face of adversity. Along with any advice, I will concretely contribute to the development of female talent considering that I have also been selected as mentor for young women in business by Valore D, the first association of large companies formed in Italy to support women’s leadership in the corporate world. The lawyer’s profession has changed over the last few years becoming ever more competitive and less safe, but to invest in the merit together with an eye to marketing strategies, all this will pay.”

A partial aspect of the firm’s overwhelming success has been the region of Lombardia, in which the firm is based, and Manuela tells us about the main benefits of being based in this location.

“The Lombardia region is the driving force of Italy and Milan is the engine; this entails the benefits which outweigh the drawbacks. The benefit being the workload, and the drawbacks of a hectic environment. Being a vital and forward-looking city, where European trade fairs and business interest are converging is a great benefit. The firm’s development in Milan has always been in direct response to the commercial needs of its clients, typically global corporations, financial institutions and governments. As Milan has become increasingly important to these clients, the firm has expanded its full-service domestic and international law capabilities to provide assistance. Additionally, Ichino Brugnatelli has a number of legal experts in their fields including partners, based in Milan, and the firm continues to respond to the growing international needs of its clients by enhancing the cross-border aspects of its practices and integrating multi-practice teams.”

Proud of her own success, Manuela is keen to state what recent transactions she has been working on, which have brought success to her and the firm.

“Just to name a few, I would like to cite four transactions in which I have been involved recently. The first one, regards an arbitration before the Chamber of Arbitration of the Milan Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of a pension fund of a primary Italian banking group worth 110 million euro. The second, a real estate development in Italy for the building of the new site of an American multinational worth about 16 million euro. The third, a dispute before the Italian Supreme Court on behalf of a primary Italian bank worth 112 million euro. The fourth was for providing assistance to a Japanese corporation involved in a negotiated procedure without publication of a contract notice under the Public Procurement Code as recently amended, worth about 1.5 million euro.”

Moving forwards, Manuela will look to build on the success of her previous achievements as well as further the reputation and status of the firm. She talks about the reputation that Ichino Brugnatelli has earned itself internationally, and indicates a possible expansion into China.

“Having acquired significant reputation in international matters and taking advantage of the fact that Mr. Francesco Brugnatelli is fluent in Mandarin, we are expanding our vision towards China and as expected for 2018, to manage a number of transactions stemming from our Chinese contacts together with further contacts worldwide. We are ready to advise both domestic and international corporations wishing to invest in China and Chinese enterprises, and willing to do the same in Italy. Recently, we have set up a dedicated team that offers legal assistance to Italian and European companies concerning Chinese interests, and provides Chinese companies with a complete consulting service in business opportunities offered by domestic and European markets. In this regard, we are also planning to open a Chinese desk aimed to facilitate this kind of contact.”

Ultimately, as well as expanding into China, Manuela signs off by stating that the firm are always open to new challenges within the legal sector, and sets out what opportunities will possibly present themselves to the company.

“Lastly, we are always open to new challenges in the legal sector, particularly regarding highly complex corporate and financial transactions. Looking ahead, we are considering the possibility to make available our expertise in NPLs, mini-bond and GDPR matters which today are of great interest to the banking and business sector.”

Company: Studio Legale Ichino Brugnatelli e Associati

Contact: Manuela Grassi

Contact Email: manuela. [email protected] [email protected]

Address: Via Lorenzo Mascheroni, 31, Milan, 20145, Italy

Phone: 0039 02 481 932 49