Bloomberg Law
March 22, 2021, 7:08 PM

Novartis Names Legal Chief from AbbVie Amid Pharma Shuffle

Ruiqi Chen
Ruiqi Chen

Novartis AG has hired AbbVie Inc. deputy general counsel Karen Hale as its new chief legal officer, less than a month after its former legal chief Shannon Thyme Klinger departed the company to lead Moderna Inc.'s law department.

The company said Monday that Hale will officially join Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, on May 15 after eight years with AbbVie, including a six-year stint as chief ethics and compliance officer.

Novartis’ U.S. president and global head of litigation Tom Kendris was named ad interim chief legal officer following Klinger’s departure. He will continue to hold that position until Hale officially joins the company.

“I am excited to join Novartis, a company dedicated to addressing some of society’s most challenging healthcare conditions using innovative science and technology,” Hale said in a Monday statement.

Novartis’ net income in 2020 was $8.1 billion, driven by higher sales and up approximately 13% year over year, according to the company’s annual report. This year, Novartis has agreed to help produce both the Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac NV Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to boost distribution.

Hale, a former Sidley Austin lawyer, had her last day with AbbVie March 19. Prior to that, Hale also spent 15 years with Abbott Laboratories before AbbVie’s spin-off from Abbott. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her move.

Multiple other biotechs also announced new top lawyers on Monday. Applied Molecular Transport Inc., which went public in 2020, named Earl Douglas as general counsel, and Sutro Biopharma, Inc., promoted David Pauling from executive director of legal affairs to general counsel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Chris Opfer at