Banking and securities partner Paolo Calderaro will relocate from Milan to Rome to slip into Chessa's chair when he moves to Standard & Poor's. Calderaro is expected to attain equity this year.
Italy managing partner Nicholas Wrigley said the move was aimed at maximising the firm's chances for winning roles on a series of government infrastructure projects coming to market.
The Italian office has now chosen its first executive committee to share management with Wrigley. It includes Milan partners Alberta Figari and Giueseppe De Palma, Calderaro and Cristoforo Osti for Rome and Gianandrea Rizzieri for Padua. Practice group representatives have also been selected.
The overhaul should draw a line under the Grimaldi era, which culminated in senior partner Vittorio Grimaldi leading four other partners and 26 lawyers out of the firm.
Chessa's resignation was a further blow to Clifford Chance, coming just six months after he was appointed joint managing partner with Wrigley. Chessa had earlier held talks with Sidley Austin Brown & Wood about setting up an office.
Calderaro and fellow banking and finance partners Franco Grilli and Silvio Riolo are also understood to have been party to that offer from Sidley.