Global law firm Allen & Overy's leading project finance lawyer Catia Tomasetti is set to leave the firm and join Italian law firm Bonelli Erede Pappalardo early next year.

Tomasetti has been serving as a partner at Allen & Overy's Rome office since 2000. She is one of the most renowned legal experts in project finance and Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Italy.

We are very pleased to have Catia join us: she is held in the highest esteem, both in Italy and abroad. This further strengthens two of BEP's strategic practice areas: the banking and finance practice, now to comprise nearly 50 lawyers, including 6 partners, and the energy practice, Bonelli Managing Partner Alberto Saravalle said in a statement.

Allen & Overy said in a statement that it wishes Tomasetti all the best for the future.

It is also being speculated that around 20 lawyers could desert Allen & Overy in favor of Bonelli. However, both Bonelli and Allen & Overy have refused to comment on the matter.

This is not the first time Allen & Overy lawyers have marched out of its Italian offices. In May 2009, 17 associates and two partners defected to Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners. This was followed by further three departures in September 2009, which saw a team of real estate lawyers led by senior associate Davide Braghini join Gianni.

Bonelli is one of the leading law firms in Italy. It has 300 lawyers working out of offices in Milan, Genoa, Rome, Brussels and London.