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By the Numbers: 12 Legal Chief Jobs Up for Grabs in 2021

Dec. 24, 2020, 10:45 AM

Several notable lawyers were hired at top companies in 2020, a trend likely to continue into 2021 as corporations across a variety of industries fill recently or soon-to-be vacated general counsel positions.

From The Hershey Company’s Damien Atkins to Soros Fund Management’s Boyd Johnson III, dozens of top lawyers at major companies have announced their departures in recent months. Many of these companies, still facing a wide range of uncertainty stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, have already begun the search for new legal chiefs.

Here are 12 notable vacancies atop corporate legal departments as of Dec. 17:

Greenpeace

Jasper Teulings, the Amsterdam-based environmental nonprofit’s former general counsel, announced his departure in November after 16 years with the organization. Teulings said on Twitter that he will join London-based Children’s Investment Fund Foundation in January. Greenpeace will begin searching for his successor while Kristin Casper works as interim general counsel. The nonprofit is also searching for a new general counsel for its U.S. arm.

The Hershey Company

Former general counsel Damien Atkins said in early December that he will leave his position on January 31 due to family illness. Atkins joined the Hershey, Pa.-based chocolate and snack company two years ago. Hershey’s deputy general counsel, James Turoff, will step in as acting general counsel until a permanent replacement is found.

Kickstarter PBC

Nicole Benincasa joined, then left the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based crowdfunding company this year. Jaclyn Vandermeer became acting general counsel following Benincasa’s departure in October. Kickstarter posted a job listing for a new general counsel about a month ago.

La-Z-Boy Inc.

The furniture company’s general counsel and vice president, Stephen Krull, said earlier this month that he plans to retire in August 2021. In a Dec. 10 statement, the Monroe. Mich.-based company said it expects to announce a successor in the coming months.

Marathon Oil Corp.

The Houston-based energy company’s former general counsel, Reginald Hedgebeth, resigned at the beginning of the month but will stay on as a legal adviser through the end of the year. The company has not publicized any attempts to find his replacement and did not respond to a request for comment.

McDonald’s Corp.

Jerry Krulewitch, the fast food giant’s former general counsel and executive vice president, retired this fall due to Parkinson’s disease after nearly two decades with the Chicago-based company. McDonald’s U.S. general counsel Mahrukj Hussain has stepped in as interim general counsel while the company looks for a permanent replacement.

Moderna Inc.

Lori Henderson, general counsel of the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company, announced her pending retirement in October, after two years with the company. She will remain with the Covid-19 vaccine creator through early 2021 to aid with the transition to the next general counsel, according to a securities filing.

National Public Radio Inc.

Michelle Shanahan was named the news network’s interim general counsel following the October resignation of former legal chief Jonathan Hart. Shanahan has been with NPR for more than two decades and will continue to lead the legal department until a permanent general counsel is hired.

Owens Corning

The Toledo, Ohio-based insulation and fiberglass producer lost its general counsel Ava Harter to consumer brands company Whirlpool Corp. this fall. Deputy general counsel Richard Berry was named acting general counsel in November as the company searches for a permanent replacement for Harter.

The Securities and Exchange Commission

The SEC’s general counsel Robert Stebbins will depart the agency in January after three years, and the SEC’s solicitor Michael Conley will serve as acting general counsel. Stebbins will leave his post before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The incoming administration is expected to play a large role in choosing Stebbins’ successor, as well as filling top lawyer roles across the federal government..

Soros Fund Management

Boyd Johnson, general counsel for the New York-based family office of billionaire George Soros, is poised to leave in January and rejoin WilmerHale as a partner. The private investment firm is now searching for a new top lawyer.

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Atlanta-based legal advocacy group has teamed up with legal recruitment firm Major, Lindsey & Africa to find a new chief legal officer. The role will replace interim legal co-directors Kim Anderson and Kate Kendell, an SPLC spokeswoman said. O.V. Brantley is serving as the organization’s interim general counsel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com; Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com