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Snap’s Top Lawyer’s Pay Drops 30%, Compliance Chief to Exit (1)

Feb. 4, 2022, 6:09 PMUpdated: Feb. 4, 2022, 10:32 PM

Snap Inc.'s general counsel Michael O’Sullivan received more than $5.4 million in total compensation last year, a 30% drop from the prior fiscal year, the company disclosed Friday.

O’Sullivan’s pay package is down from the more than $7.7 million he received in 2020. He saw his pay hit a high in 2017, the year he took over Snap’s top legal role, earning nearly $16.7 million mostly in the form of stock awards.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Snap, the parent company of social media service Snapchat, this week saw its longtime chief compliance officer and global head of litigation Dominic Perella announce that he would step down in the spring to take a sabbatical. Perella, who is also a deputy general counsel at Snap, said he’s “ready for a time out after 20 years of doing Law Things.”

Snap’s 10-K filing Friday also disclosed the company’s payments last year to two outside law firms: Munger, Tolles & Olson and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Snap didn’t describe the specific work that each firm performed for the company.

Munger, where O’Sullivan used to work, is also home to litigation partner John Spiegel, the father of Snap co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel. While the elder Spiegel didn’t personally provide legal services to the company last year, Munger itself was paid more than $941,000 for legal services rendered, according to Snap.

Debra Wong Yang, a former top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and current chair of the crisis management practice at Gibson Dunn, has also done legal work for Snap, the company said. Wong Yang is Evan Spiegel’s stepmother. Snap disclosed that it paid more than $839,000 to Gibson Dunn last year.

Snap, like some of its competitors, had watched its share price sink amid fears about the future growth of social media. Snap’s stock price rebounded Friday, however, as the company unveiled sales and earnings numbers that pleased Wall Street.

Securities filings show that O’Sullivan, Snap’s legal chief, has sold off more than $26 million in company stock within the last year. O’Sullivan currently owns nearly $37 million in Snap stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Snap’s 10-K filing shows that O’Sullivan received $725,000 in cash compensation from Snap last year—comprised of a $500,000 annual base salary and $225,000 in non-equity incentive plan compensation—as well as $4.7 million in stock awards.

O’Sullivan succeeded Snap’s first-ever general counsel Christopher Handman, a former Hogan Lovells appellate litigation partner in Washington who left the company after it went public in 2017.

Perella, Snap’s outgoing compliance and litigation leader, is also a former partner in the appellate litigation practice at Hogan Lovells. He served as interim legal chief at Snap before O’Sullivan’s appointment as legal chief five years ago. Perella didn’t respond to a request for comment about his decision to step away from Snap.

Perella’s farewell post via LinkedIn included links to two job openings at Snap for the compliance chief and litigation head positions he’s held at the company.

Snap also parted ways last year with former chief strategy officer Jared Grusd. Snap disclosed Grusd still serves as a senior adviser to its CEO and received nearly $27 million in total compensation last year. The bulk of that sum was in stock awards.

James Williams, a former associate general counsel at Snap hired in 2016 from Twitter Inc., also left last year to become general counsel for Thorn. The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based nonprofit co-founded by actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore makes software to defend children from sexual abuse.

Snap has remained in the market for legal talent.

The company hired former Willie Farr & Gallagher corporate associate Kristen Killian for a strategy role last year. It also while also added deputy general counsel and global head of commercial legal Claudia Teran from Fox Corp.

(Adds information on former Snap lawyer in 14th paragraph.)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com