The New York Mets are parting ways with two top executives, including the team’s longtime in-house legal chief, amid an internal workplace review being conducted by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Steven Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund founder who paid $2.4 billion last year to acquire the Major League Baseball franchise, said in an email to Mets employees Monday that executive vice president and chief legal officer David Cohen and senior vice president of human resources and diversity Holly Lindvall will step down following a transition period for the team’s legal and human resources departments.
The email from Steven Cohen, which was viewed by Bloomberg Law, noted that both individuals have “agreed to stay on during a transition period while we conduct searches to fill these important roles.” Steven Cohen pledged the Mets will expand the scope of their anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies to “ensure that our community and culture will always be safe, respectful, and inclusive.”
The Mets retained WilmerHale in March to handle an internal inquiry following reports by The Athletic of lewd behavior by several former club employees involving different women, some of whom worked for the team and others in sports media.
The Athletic reported Monday that WilmerHale has interviewed 82 current and former Mets employees. A source familiar with the law firm’s work told Bloomberg Law that it hasn’t yet provided a written report of its findings.
Jamie Gorelick, co-chair of WilmerHale’s crisis management and strategic response group, and partner Brenda Lee, vice chair of the firm’s anti-discrimination practice, have taken the lead on the internal probe for the Mets.
Steven Cohen’s memo Monday thanked David Cohen—no relation to the new Mets owner—and Lindvall for dedicating “significant time and effort” to the team and for “their many years of service.”
Lindvall, a veteran human resources executive, joined the Mets in 2013. David Cohen, hired by the club in 1995, spent years as the team’s general counsel before being promoted to chief legal officer in 2019.
David Cohen didn’t respond to a request for comment about his pending departure. Nor did a handful of Mets media contacts and Neal Kaplan, who succeeded David Cohen as general counsel for the team two years ago and who this past February took on a new position as the club’s vice president of strategy.
New Legal Additions
Steven Cohen is a founder, chairman, president, and CEO of Point72 Asset Management LP, a Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund that in 2018 hired Gorelick and WilmerHale to conduct an independent assessment of its internal protocols. That move came after Lauren Bonner, Point72’s former head of talent analytics, filed a gender bias case against the firm that was settled out of court last year.
Steven Cohen, who turned to Debevoise & Plimpton to advise on his acquisition of the Mets, has also looked to another familiar lawyer for a new role with the team. Stephen Canna, a deputy general counsel at Point72, is now serving as chief financial officer for the franchise, according to his LinkedIn profile and a transcript of a meeting this past Jan. 19 between the Mets and the New York City Industrial Development Agency, which was in discussions over a bond refinancing for the team’s ballpark, 42,000-seat Citi Field. DLA Piper is advising the Mets in that matter.
Canna reports to Mets president Richard “Sandy” Alderson, a Harvard Law School graduate and former general manager of the team who was rehired by Cohen in November. Canna didn’t respond to a request for comment about his new position.
Nor did Jane Son, a former Clifford Chance capital markets associate in London and Tokyo who most recently served as director of banking legal at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York. Son joined the Mets earlier this year as a director of community engagement and the team’s nonprofit foundation.
During her more than 10 years in-house at Barclays, Son was credited for her diversity and inclusion, philanthropy, and social impact work, which saw her take a lead role on Americas equity and inclusion efforts for the British banking giant.
Aubrey Wechsler, another attorney who serves as director of employee engagement for the Mets, is a former employee relations manager for the team who reportedly received some of the complaints involving former employees. A source told Bloomberg Law earlier this year that Wechsler is a human resources staffer who is not a part of the Mets’ internal legal department.
The Mets, which owe their existence to a prominent former New York lawyer, also hired former Katten Muchin Rosenman associate Ennis Coble as counsel in March. The Mets are currently in first place in the National League East division.