Clifford Chance dumps additional units in favour of a pure lockstep in Italy

Clifford Chance is finally drawing a line under its turbulent off-lockstep past in Italy after negotiating a new remuneration package with managing partner Nick Wrigley.

The deal, which has just been signed, will see Wrigley lose out on gross income of between £300,000-£350,000 per annum, with effect from the current financial year. He is now on a par with the firm’s other plateau partners, who expect to take home £720,000 for 2002-2003, after a slump in profits.
This is understood to be unconnected to the ongoing partner compensation review, which has been live for two months and is being led by global head of corporate David Childs.

The move to bring Wrigley’s compensation into line was seen by the global management as crucial to restoring harmony in Italy following the fallout with name partner Vittorio Grimaldi, who left last year with four other partners and 26 other lawyers (The Lawyer, 25 March 2002).

Wrigley, a capital markets star, was the only English partner to be awarded extra units on top of lockstep when Clifford Chance merged with Grimaldi’s firm in 2000, a mark of the huge contribution he had already made to the joint venture.

Five Italian rainmakers were also given extra units to bridge the cultural gulf. Grimaldi himself got the most generous deal, earning between £2.5m and £3m a year. Banking partner Francesco Novelli, M&A partner Roberto Capelli and structured finance specialists Luigi Chessa and Alberto Del Din made up the rest of the off-lockstep contingent.

London-based Del Din left in 2001 to join Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, while Novelli and Capelli were part of last year’s dramatic breakaway with Grimaldi. Chessa is understood to have renounced his extra units before opting for a move to Standard & Poor’s earlier this year.

Removing the extra units is part of an initiative by the global management to bring Italy more in line with the Clifford Chance structure. However, it may also inhibit its ability to lure big-hitters to replace the Grimaldi faction.