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Disney’s Longtime Top Lawyer Stepping Down Amid New Legal Hires

July 14, 2021, 12:21 AM

The Walt Disney Co. will soon lose its legal chief of almost 20 years, Alan Braverman, but the media giant has been busy adding other legal talent to its in-house ranks in recent months.

The Burbank, Calif.-based company disclosed in a Tuesday securities filing that senior executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary Braverman will step down after his employment agreement ends Dec. 31.

The general counsel will leave his role Jan. 1 along with Zenia Mucha, another longtime Disney employee who is the company’s head of corporate communications.

Bloomberg News reported that both exits mark the latest in a string of senior executives to leave Disney since former CEO Robert Iger stepped down last year. Iger, who was replaced by new CEO Robert Chapek, will relinquish his current role as the company’s executive chairman at year’s end.

Neither Braverman, 73, nor Disney, responded to a request for comment about his resignation and plans to replace him.

Disney named Braverman as top lawyer in 2003 after he spent the previous decade as a deputy general counsel for the company and general counsel at ABC Inc., the television network that Disney acquired in 1996.

During his nearly two decades running Disney’s legal group, a role that saw Braverman advise on mega-deals and trademark disputes, he was frequently cited as one of the top paid corporate law department leaders in the U.S.

Bloomberg data shows that Braverman owns $19.7 million in Disney stock. He sold off nearly $22.9 million last year, according to securities filings.

Braverman saw his total compensation drop nearly 34% in 2020 as a result of coronavirus pandemic-related pay cuts for top Disney executives.

In January, Disney’s legal and compliance team ushered in a new chief compliance officer in Alicia Schwarz, a co-chair of the Disney Lawyers of Color affinity group. Schwarz succeeded former Disney associate general counsel and compliance chief Jacob “Jack” Yellin, who retired from the company.

Disney recently added to Schwarz’s compliance team by hiring assistant general counsel for global ethics and compliance Rafael Ribeiro, who joined the company June 14. Ribeiro most recently served as a litigation partner at Hogan Lovells in Miami, where he joined the law firm in 2015.

Ribeiro, who was born in Brazil, said in a LinkedIn post last month that he reports to Schwarz and expects to eventually relocate to Burbank. In an interview this week with the New College of Florida, his alma mater, Ribeiro said at Disney he will oversee compliance matters for the Americas and trade regulation compliance.

Disney also elevated Paul Richardson, a veteran in-house lawyer and human resources executive for the company and subsidiary ESPN Inc., to be its new chief human resources officer as of July 1. Earlier this year, former Katten Muchin Rosenman associate Ahree Song joined Disney in a counsel role in Burbank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com