Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Lyft Lawyer Ties Functions Together in New Presidential Role

Nov. 12, 2021, 6:34 PM

Lyft Inc.‘s move to make general counsel Kristin Sverchek its first-ever president of business affairs will unite core business units while maintaining the same legal reporting structure, the company said.

Sverchek’s new job brings together the legal, people, public policy, supply chain management, business development and chief information officer functions, said Ashley Adams, a Lyft spokeswoman.

Lyft’s law department has been led since 2012 by Sverchek, who joined the company that year as its first legal hire. Her new position was disclosed in a company securities filing Nov. 10. Lindsay Llewellyn, Lyft’s former head of litigation, has succeeeded Sverchek as its next general counsel, the filing said.

The change comes as Lyft, along with its ride-sharing rival Uber Technologies Inc., faces myriad outstanding legal and regulatory issues related to a business model that classifies ride-sharing drivers as independent contractors.

Bringing several business units together under Sverchek’s leadership “will increase the operational effectiveness of the business and allow for additional focus on company-wide initiatives,” Adams said. The current leaders of those teams will remain in their roles, she said.

Lyft has promoted senior director of legal John Pellegrini, a former associate at Latham & Watkins who joined the company in 2015, to take over Llewellyn’s litigation leadership duties upon her promotion to general counsel, Adams said.

Llewellyn, who like Sverchek has been an advocate for work-life balance by working mothers, earlier this year spent several months as Lyft’s interim general counsel while Sverchek was on maternity leave, Adams said.

Adams credited Sverchek for creating an in-house legal group at Lyft that currently has expertise in employment, insurance, litigation, regulatory and corporate and commercial transactions.

“Kristin has been our trusted partner for over a decade and has led Lyft through our biggest business challenges,” said a statement from company founders Logan Green and John Zimmer. “She is an inspiration in how she leads with her work ethic, heart and downright effectiveness.”

Lyft’s legal and regulatory battles have led the San Francisco-based company to retain legions of litigators and lobbyists to defend its turf.

Baker Botts; Munger, Tolles & Olson; Seyfarth Shaw; and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith have each handled over 7% of Lyft’s litigation work in U.S. federal courts in the last five years, according to Bloomberg data.

Keker, Van Nest & Peters, which is representing Lyft in a key California fight over its business model, also had a role on roughly 6% of the company’s federal litigation portfolio during that same time period.

Lyft, which went public in 2019, has also paid $260,000 to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld through the first three quarters of this year to the law firm to lobby on its behalf at the federal level. Akin Gump is advising Lyft on “policy matters impacting independent workers, consumers and businesses,” according to U.S. Senate filings.

As for Uber, the company’s legal group—led by Tony West—has also gone through some changes this year. In July, Uber saw deputy general counsel Keir Gumbs depart to become chief legal officer for Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.

Uber subsequently promoted Kathleen Waitzman, its associate general counsel for safety and insurance, to succeed Gumbs as a deputy general counsel. She joins West and chief deputy general counsel Tammy Albarrán as Uber’s top in-house lawyers.

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