Date: Monday, March 18th, 2019 by Michaela Hickson.
This week we interviewed Alberto Batini, partner at Batini, Traverso, Grasso and Associati of Italy and GILC board member.
I started my career in Italy and moved to London in 1992, where I worked for 3 years in a major city law firm, and then went back to Italy, where I became one of the founding partners of BTG. In early 2014 I finally moved back to London, managing the London office of the firm.
I am head of the BTG insurance practice, the largest practice in the firm. I supervise my team’s work, give advice and counsel to my own clients, as well as being head of the London office. I don’t have a closely defined role, so I end up doing everything, from giving lectures to managing people.
Our firm is an insurance specialist, with six offices in Italy and one in London. Our main areas of business are financial lines, product liability, medical malpractice, healthcare, complex claims and marine insurance.
Our clientele is exclusively insurers, London market predominantly, though we also work with Italian, Asian and US insurers. Our insurance team is made up of 30 lawyers, including partners, associates and junior trainees.
We were originally contacted by BLM following some research that they did with London insurance clients asking what law firms in Italy they used – our name was flagged by clients. BLM then approached us at an early stage of the formation of the network, and invited us to become a founding partner. We agreed, and started working together with the other founding firms (Byrd & Associates and Foran Glennon) to set it up.
I sat on the board from a very early stage and saw the network growing from scratch, organising itself and expanding, including the new members who have joined this year.
I am very optimistic about the fact that international legal networks specialising in a particular industry, such as ourselves, can play a much-needed role in coming years. As a coalition of independent firms, we can provide a very specialist global offering to the market in every jurisdiction, delivering the best possible results across the world, particularly for underwriters to who have international binders and are writing across boundaries. Our group can be of great help in constructing policy wordings and platforms, in handling claims, and advising on coverage. I believe that GILC will continue to grow organically, and we would like to get to around 25-30 member firms over the next decade or so.
My days are always hectic. I spend around 40% of the day working in English, and 60% in Italian. Most days start by reviewing emails which flow in during the night, and which I might have already read, but need to provide an answer. Then I have a couple of conference calls with my Italian offices – usually Milan and Rome. I might have some accounting to supervise or validate, from Italy or London. I will have a business lunch 2-3 times a week. In the afternoon, I have meetings, or a couple of the hours of the day are dedicated to reviewing court papers prepared by colleagues. I also regularly attend GILC board meetings and meet candidate firms in the GILC new member pipeline.
We are sited just behind Fenchurch Street Station in the heart of London’s insurance district (EC3), so although my office doesn’t have a great view, I look out of my window and see the insurance community at work all around me. It’s a great feeling to be part of that village.
The two are very different. In Italy our work is mainly litigation, so days are filled with receiving papers and instructions, putting together defence, and representing underwriters in court. In London we are asked to give more advice, and spend time counselling and on out-of-court activity – much more time meeting clients.
One cultural difference between London and Italy is the length of meetings – in London meeting are rarely more than one hour long, but in Italy meetings last two hours, frequently running into lunch. Plus people in London are always punctual, but in Rome, arranging a meeting at 3 can mean a client arriving at 4! These days I have gained the London mentality, and I like to be on time.
I spend lots of time with my family. My young daughter absorbs much of my weekend: at the age of 7 she has a constant round of birthday parties, ballet lessons and clubs to be taken to. I also love restaurants, especially Japanese and London is fabulous for these. I am a great fan of musicals too – you can see everything in London.
Our vision and focus is to use the strength and depth of our company to help our clients reduce the time and money they spend on managing risk. If you need a global group of legal advisers, delivering a creative, commercial and specialist service, talk to Global Insurance Law Connect today.
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