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Ex-Biden, Facebook Attorney Joining Shopify as General Counsel

Oct. 26, 2021, 9:36 PM

Shopify Inc. has hired Jessica Hertz, who stepped down this month from her role as cabinet secretary for President Joe Biden, to be its general counsel.

Hertz, who will start her new role in November, made waves in January when she joined the Biden administration’s White House as deputy assistant to the president and staff secretary. She spent the months prior to that appointment as general counsel for the Biden-Harris presidential transition team.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Shopify team as general counsel and honored to play a part in making the tools of entrepreneurship available to as many people as possible,” Hertz said in a statement posted to her LinkedIn profile.

Hertz added it was a “privilege” to serve the White House and Biden-Harris team.

Prior to spending the past 10 months in public service, Hertz was an associate general counsel for regulatory at Facebook Inc., which the former Washington-based litigation and public policy partner at Jenner & Block joined in 2018.

The White House last week named Neera Tanden, an attorney who earlier this year bowed out of a nomination to run the Office of Management and Budget, to be Hertz’s successor as staff secretary.

Shopify didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Ottawa, Canada-based company, which is coping with supply chain woes ahead of the holiday shopping season, tapped Erin Zipes and Vivek Narayanadas to run its legal group in August. The moves followed the departure of former chief legal officer Joseph Frasca, who has yet to disclose his next endeavor.

Zipes and Narayanadas were both vice president of legal at Shopify. Narayanadas is also a data protection officer for the company, while Zipes is an assistant general counsel and corporate secretary, according to their respective LinkedIn profiles.

Last month Shopify saw former in-house lawyer Jodi Golinsky join digital banking startup Current as its new general counsel.

As for Hertz, she began her legal career working in the Obama administration’s Justice Department and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

A financial disclosure form filed by Hertz this year as part of her return to public service showed that she received nearly $800,000 in salary and bonuses from her role at Facebook, as well as almost $100,000 for serving as general counsel to PT Fund Inc., the official name of Biden’s transition team.

Hertz was also paid $20,000 to be a lecturer at Columbia Law School in New York, according to her filing with the Office of Government Ethics.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor officiated the 2009 wedding of Hertz, her former clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to Christopher Angell. Angell, a former Covington & Burling associate, is now a director of strategy and business development for water technology company Xylem Inc.

The Biden transition team’s decision last year to name Hertz as its legal chief, a position that required her to navigate various ethical issues and potential conflicts of interest, drew scrutiny as a result of her time at Facebook, according to Politico, which first noted Tuesday her recruitment by Shopify.

SoulCycle GC Moves On

The Canadian e-commerce giant, which was valued at $200 billion this past July, isn’t the only company in the online retail space reshaping its in-house legal team.

The Packable Co., a private equity-backed e-commerce platform that owns health and beauty products retailer Pharmapacks LLC, brought on former SoulCycle Inc. general counsel Maria Krasnikow Harris this month to be its first chief legal officer.

Harris, in a post last week to her LinkedIn profile, said she was “thrilled to share” that she’s joined the Packable team as its new legal chief. She didn’t respond to a request for comment about her departure earlier this year from SoulCycle, a spin fitness studio chain hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nor did Ian Cohen, who joined Pharmapacks as its general counsel in 2019.

Cooley counseled Pharmapacks parent Packable in September on its plans to go public through a merger with Highland Transcend Partners I Corp., a Miami Beach, Fla.-based special purpose acquisition company advised by Davis Polk & Wardwell. The combined entity is expected to have a market valuation of roughly $1.6 billion.

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;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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