Annalisa Feliciani, Senior Associate, Simmons & Simmons (Rome)
How long have you been working for your current company?
I joined Simmons & Simmons’ Rome office in June 2010.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
After graduating from La Sapienza University in Rome, I was a trainee in a medium-size traditional Italian law firm in Rome. I've always thought and have been told that in order to get to the top you need to start from the lower steps, so that is what I did. I was working on pure litigation matters and the recovery of claims for 3 years, with a view to building a solid foundation for my professional growth. I then stepped into the business lawyers’ world when in 2004 I joined the financial markets department with Clifford Chance in Rome. Although I came from a completely different background, I soon got into the new way and type of work. My experience with that firm was great. I was given the opportunity to work in different offices (Rome, Milan and London) and with different people and also to spend a long period on client secondment. After 6 years I thought it was time for a new challenge. Simmons & Simmons knocked at my door and I opened it. So now I am here, working as a senior associate in the financial markets department in Rome. There was no specific plan to get where I am now. I have just kept on working hard and pushing ahead, trying to make the most of every single opportunity that comes up in life.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
I think every step in my profession is an achievement but in terms of which makes me proudest, I would say winning “Best lawyer of the year under 35” award in November 2011 from “Top Legal” (Italy’s specialist legal publication).
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
I think that for women in this job, every day is a challenge.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
Getting that work-life balance is a daily challenge but I try to make it possible by ensuring I am organised at home and at work.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
I did not have any specific mentor or role model. Basically,I think that everyone I have met during my career has been a mentor and you should strive to learn from everyone you meet; take something from the positive and negative things you see them doing.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
I think that most corporate diversity initiatives are very effective and the best are approaches that recognise the importance of a flexible approach at work, allowing women to reach the best work-life balance they can.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
There have been many significant changes over the past five years. The legal sector has seen an increase in the number of higher profile women - each year more and more women are getting the top positions.