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Lyft, Facing Many Legal Issues, Looks Within for New Top Lawyer

Nov. 11, 2021, 1:09 AM

Lyft Inc. has named a new legal chief as the ride-sharing company and competitor Uber Technologies Inc. continue to face litigation over its classification of drivers.

Lindsay Llewellyn, a vice president and associate general counsel at the company, was promoted as of Nov. 1 to general counsel. Lyft disclosed in a securities filing late Wednesday that Llewellyn has replaced its longtime general counsel Kristin Sverchek, who has moved into the position of president of business affairs.

Lyft said in a statement provided to Bloomberg Law that Llewellyn, who previously led its litigation team, has “guided the company through the numerous legal challenges associated with its growth from a small, private San Francisco-only company to a public company with a presence in all fifty states and Canada.”

Sverchek’s new role as Lyft’s first-ever president of business affairs will see her duties expand, the company said. Sverchek will unify Lyft’s general and administrative functions and “focus on company-wide initiatives and increasing the operational effectiveness of the business,” Lyft said.

The coronavirus pandemic and a drop in demand led Lyft to furlough thousands of employees and reduce executive salaries. Lyft and Uber both face mounting litigation—and a complicated regulatory landscape—over their decision to classify drivers as independent contractors, rather than full-time employees.

Lyft has turned to law firms Keker, Van Nest & Peters, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Barnes & Thornburg, among others, to help fend off those challenges.

Sverchek joined Lyft as its first top lawyer in 2012. She currently owns nearly $19.3 million in Lyft stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Lyft’s most recent proxy statement shows that Sverchek received nearly $3.6 million in total compensation during fiscal 2020, down from the nearly $6 million in total pay she earned from the San Francisco-based company in 2019.

Securities filings show that Sverchek has sold off nearly $3.3 million in Lyft stock this year. She has been given additional restricted stock units in the company in her new role as president of business affairs, according to Lyft.

In September, Sverchek and Lyft made headlines for teaming up with archrival Uber to take a stand against a restrictive new anti-abortion law in Texas.

Sverchek began her career as an associate at startup-focused law firm Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian. She helped take Lyft public in 2019. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati advised Lyft on its initial public offering.

Llewellyn, Lyft’s new legal chief, joined the company as a managing counsel for litigation in 2014. Prior to that role, which saw Llewellyn serve as Lyft’s first in-house litigator, she was an associate at Winston & Strawn in San Francisco.

“As one of the company’s most tenured attorneys, Lindsay has a long track record of advising Lyft on a wide variety of cutting edge and high-profile legal matters, while navigating the intersection of the company’s legal, policy and brand objectives,” Lyft said in a statement.

The company credited Llewellyn for building a team of litigators covering areas like consumer class actions, competition, insurance coverage disputes, intellectual property and regulatory matters. Llewellyn also served as its interim general counsel from January to May of this year, Lyft said.

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