Ryan Bottegal aims for calm, so he can deliver quiet.
Calm, because his goal is to assure attorneys general that his clients are following the law. Quiet, because convincing one attorney general means there’s no court judgment that could trigger a multistate pile-on.
Bottegal’s soft-spoken demeanor, along with the strategy chops he earned as an intellectual property litigator, helps him work across the table from state attorneys general offices, demonstrating with deep industry knowledge that his clients aren’t subject to regulation. Or, if that fails, he helps reach some mutual agreement allowing a client to tweak business practices and avoid a legal headache.
His approach helped pull Uber back from the brink of drawn-out and messy litigation in 2021.
In response to the difficulties of the pandemic and disparities highlighted by the George Floyd racial justice protests, UberEats waived delivery fees for Black-owned restaurants in an effort to help Black communities and businesses. The Arizona Attorney General claimed the waiver was discriminatory, and UberEats’ prior counsel was gearing up for a scorched-earth court battle before Bottegal came in.
“When AGs start getting their eye on you, you have to come up with some mutually beneficial solution,” he said. “They want the press release; we want to make sure they understand we weren’t doing anything wrong and that this has no future implications.”
Lori Kalani, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s 17-member state attorneys general practice group, said this deal demonstrated what makes Bottegal special.
“Ryan’s ability to grasp the big picture of our client’s business strategy and goals, and work with me to build a path to resolution with an attorney general who had determined to fight to the bitter end due to the aggressive approach of prior litigation counsel, allowed us to quickly achieve a positive outcome without time-consuming and costly litigation that would have carried far greater business risk for our client,” Kalani said.
In May 2021, UberEats and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) settled in a deal dropping the claims without further proceedings or fines.
Bottegal said that he’s more than comfortable zealously representing the interests of clients in litigation. But unlike intellectual property suits where he says much of the practice is contentious letter writing to opposing counsel, a lot of his attorneys general practice goes into the front-end of legal matters in an effort to head off litigation entirely.
He represents large corporate entities in the financial services, telecommunications, and media industries, and the attorneys general practice allows him to analyze how those businesses work so that he can use that know-how to proactively give presentations to attorneys general before any subpoenas are filed.
“We’re constantly managing relationships with AGs. We have meet-and-greets, especially during the election cycle, we met a few in our office,” he said. “We have people going back into AGs offices to keep those relationships alive.”
Bottegal said that he’s not able to talk about a lot of his clients’ matters because they were resolved without litigation.
“Part of it is understanding that they’re politicians and they have a job to do,” he said. “For us to represent our client you have to find that fine line, not dumping a bunch of documents on them, and finding out what they want.”
To contact the reporter on this story:
To contact the editors responsible for this story: