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Big Law Recruits Bolster Exxon Mobil, IBM In-House Ranks (1)

Aug. 6, 2020, 8:15 PMUpdated: Aug. 7, 2020, 2:21 PM

A pair of large law firm litigators have headed in-house to two companies with ongoing regulatory, litigation, and compliance needs.

Jones Day partner David Woodcock, who served as head of litigation for the law firm’s Dallas office, left in July to join Exxon Mobil Corp. as an assistant general counsel in Irving, Texas.

In New York, Una Dean left Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson last month for International Business Machines Corp., where she is now an associate general counsel and vice president of investigations and regulatory at the technology giant.

Neither Woodcock nor Dean responded to requests for comment about their new in-house roles, which they disclosed on their LinkedIn profiles. Nor did Michelle Browdy and Randall Ebner, general counsel for IBM and Exxon, respectively.

Dean had been a partner at Fried Frank since late 2017, when she joined the firm’s cybersecurity and white-collar defense, regulatory enforcement, and investigations practices. A decade prior to joining Fried Frank, Dean began her legal career as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York.

She went on to spend nearly eight years as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, where Dean served as the office’s first cyber specialist and developed its cross-border cybercrime practice. Online biographical information for Dean shows she specialized in international cybercrime, counter proliferation, and counterespionage matters while working for the Justice Department.

In June 2017, a few months before she left public service, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein honored Dean for her work in breaking up a clandestine Russian military procurement network that involved a Houston-based company.

Regulatory Expertise

Woodcock also has a public service background, having joined Jones Day’s securities litigation group in mid-2015 after serving four years as regional director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s office in Fort Worth, Texas.

Woodcock previously worked as an accountant at Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers before embarking on a legal career. He put his accounting background to use at the SEC, where Woodcock chaired the agency’s national Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force. Before joining the SEC in 2011, Woodcock spent a decade in the commercial litigation group at Vinson & Elkins.

Last year, Jones Day returned to the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office, which often focuses on the oil and gas sector, to hire its former local head Shamoil Shipchandler as a partner for its securities litigation and white-collar investigations group in Dallas.

An Exxon spokeswoman confirmed Woodcock’s hire and said he is one of several assistant general counsel employed by the company.

Woodcock joins an in-house legal team led by Ebner, who has worked at Exxon since 1980. Ebner took over the company’s general counsel role in late 2016 following the retirement of predecessor S. Jack Balagia Jr.

Browdy took over as legal chief of the company in 2015 following the retirement of former general counsel Robert Weber.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company, which has cut jobs due to Covid-19, has been a well-spring of in-house talent over the years.

New York-based advertising giant the Interpublic Group of Cos. Inc. hired former IBM assistant general counsel and corporate secretary Andrew Bonzani to be its general counsel in 2012. Bonzani had spent over 18 years in-house at IBM.

Cari Robinson, a former federal prosecutor who spent nearly 19 years in-house at IBM, most recently as assistant general counsel for investigations and cybersecurity, left the company in 2019 to replace Mitra Hormozi as general counsel of cosmetics maker Revlon Inc.

(Adds comment from Exxon in 11th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at