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The Most Notable General Counsel Moves of 2018

Dec. 27, 2018, 6:04 PM

Law firms might have laterals, but when it comes to making major career moves they’ve got nothing on corporate legal department leaders.

The year 2018 saw many big name general counsel moves, as they responded to business developments, public relations challenges, and new career opportunities.

Bloomberg Law took a look at some of the most notable GC job changes announced this year:

  • Ricardo Anzaldua: In April, former MetLife general counsel Anzaldua joined Freddie Mac as executive vice president and senior legal advisor, and he’s expected to soon succeed William H. McDavid as the company’s general counsel. While at MetLife, Anzaldua became well known for implementing a robust, data-driven diversity program that included incentives for law firms to meet certain metrics. He plans to implement a similar program at Freddie Mac.
  • Dev Stahlkopf: Also in April, Microsoft promoted Dev Stahlkopf to general counsel. In her new role, Stahlkopf leads a legal affairs team and reports to CLO Brad Smith. Stahlkopf has been at the tech giant for over a decade; before that, she practiced at Perkins Coie. Stahlkopf has used her position to champion numerous justice and diversity causes both within Microsoft and externally. In August, she announced that Microsoft will soon be requiring all of its major suppliers to provide employees with paid parental leave.
  • Kim Sinatra: In early July, Sinatra stepped down as general counsel of Wynn Resorts. Sinatra, who joined the company in 2004, had been named in a shareholder derivative suit claiming she helped cover up a $7.5 million settlement between former CEO Steve Wynn and a woman he allegedly raped. Sinatra has disputed the woman’s claims of a cover-up. Wynn Resorts has since hired gaming attorney Ellen Whittemore as Sinatra’s replacement.
  • Colin Stretch: Facebook has faced its share of legal and PR scrutiny in 2018, and it looks as though the company will soon be dealing with it all minus its top lawyer. Colin Stretch announced in July that he would be stepping down as Facebook general counsel, though no formal departure date has yet been set. Stretch, who has worked at the social media giant since 2010, said he made the decision in order to be able to move back to Washington with his wife. Facebook has not yet announced a replacement.
  • Kent Walker: Also in July, Google promoted general counsel Kent Walker to a broader role, senior vice president of global affairs. In the new job, Walker is responsible for overseeing the company’s policy, legal, trust and safety, and corporate philanthropy teams, and will serve as the company’s public face on numerous matters. In that capacity, he recently testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about foreign influence in U.S. politics via social media platforms.
  • Gerson Zweifach: 21st Century Fox announced in September that General Counsel Zweifach would be stepping down after the company completes its $71.3 billion sale of assets to The Walt Disney Company. Zweifach said he will be returning to Williams & Connolly, the law firm where he built his career for more than three decades before joining 21st Century Fox. Zweifach’s litigation practice covered media, patent, antitrust and securities law.
  • Dane Butswinkas: Williams & Connolly also figured in another big GC move this year—the hireof the firm’s chair Butswinkas as general counsel of Tesla in December. The move came shortly after Tesla settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission following an investigation over CEO Elon Musk’s tweets. Butswinkas had previously represented Musk in SEC-related matters. He replaces Todd Maron, who has been at the company for over five years and formerly worked as Musk’s divorce lawyer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at srussellkraft@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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