Bloomberg Law
Dec. 15, 2022, 5:23 PMUpdated: Dec. 15, 2022, 9:21 PM

Twitter Loses Last Deputy General Counsel, Firms Replaced (1)

Brian Baxter
Brian Baxter
Reporter

Twitter Inc. has parted ways with Regina Lima, its former head of international legal and sole remaining deputy general counsel, as Elon Musk continues to overhaul the embattled social media company.

Lima’s departure—confirmed by four sources familiar with Twitter’s operations—comes as the company nears the two-month mark of Musk’s turbulent takeover.

Lima didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. She was based in Miami before being summoned to Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters last week.

Most of Twitter’s roughly 200-employee legal staff has either been laid off, resigned, or otherwise departed during that time. The reductions in force come as the company copes with a variety of legal and regulatory entanglements.

Twitter moved this week to replace two major Silicon Valley law firms—Cooley and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati—with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, according to filings in US federal courts. Alex Spiro, a Quinn Emanuel litigation partner and personal lawyer to Musk, was initially tapped last month to assist his client’s Twitter transition team.

Musk has been openly critical of Cooley and Perkins Coie, tweeting about the latter on Dec. 8. Cooley, whose Dec. 14 replacement by Quinn Emanuel in a child exploitation case before an appeals court in California was first reported by Reuters, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Wilson Sonsini has been a longtime legal adviser to Twitter, including handling the company’s sale to Musk. The firm didn’t respond to a comment request about Quinn Emanuel replacing it in a separate lawsuit filed by swimsuit model Genevieve Morton, who is seeking $10 million from Twitter for alleged copyright infringement.

Court filings show that Quinn Emanuel partner Justin Griffin took over the Morton case from Wilson Sonsini per a judge’s Dec. 13 order. Twitter’s substitution of counsel motion was signed by senior legal counsel Katherine Lee Martin, a former federal prosecutor in Virginia.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Richmond, Va., confirmed that Martin left the Justice Department a year ago. Martin, who declined to comment when reached by phone, is one of roughly a dozen in-house lawyers left at Twitter, said four sources familiar with the company.

In-House Exodus

Lima’s exit follows the firings of former chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde and general counsel Sean Edgett shortly after Musk took control of the company.

Twitter subsequently scrapped a succession plan that would have made two deputy general counsel, James Baker and Tina Hwang, its legal leaders. Baker and Hwang have since left the company.

Musk said via tweet that Baker was “exited” earlier this month. Baker, the former FBI general counsel, had been the most senior lawyer remaining at Twitter.

Others leaving the company’s legal ranks include former deputy general counsel Kevin Cope, chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty, and head of global litigation, regulatory, and competition Karen Colangelo.

Kristin Manley, a former head of legal for marketing, music, content, and creator partnerships who had been set to take over as Twitter’s top European Union lawyer, resigned last month as the company faced scrutiny from the EU’s privacy watchdog.

Musk’s new management team has moved to offset that legal brain drain by bringing in talent from the technology titan’s other companies, including the privately held Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

Among the SpaceX lawyers now working at Twitter are its vice president of legal Christopher Cardaci—a former Hogan Lovells partner—and head of global business and government affairs Timothy Hughes, according to a report by the New York Times that was confirmed by three sources.

Amid the turnover, a few former Twitter lawyers have recently landed new jobs.

Timothy Lee, the company’s lead counsel for sanctions and export controls prior to being laid off last month, earlier this month was named senior counsel for trade compliance at semiconductor maker Applied Materials Inc. Kapil Chaudhary, Twitter’s former India head of legal, in late November was named general counsel for San Francisco-based online gaming company Junglee Games.

“For all the Tweeps, wherever you are—if you’re in need of a referral, a recommendation, or just a friend to talk to, I’m here,” Chaudhary said in LinkedIn post announcing his new legal role.

(Updates story throughout with more information about outside and in-house counsel changes involving Twitter.)

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

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