Salle Yoo, who has been Uber’s general counsel since it was a small start-up 2012, has been promoted: she’ll now serve as the company’s chief legal officer and corporate secretary, passing on the GC torch once the company hires a replacement.
The announcement by CEO Travis Kalanick comes at a time when the car service technology company is facing legal scrutiny from regulators, competitors, and employees — on top of the regulatory battles it has been fighting in multiple jurisdictions since first hitting the market. The new GC, who will take over the day-to-day operations of the legal department, will have their work cut out for them.
In January, the company hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment after a former software engineer wrote in a public blog post that Uber’s HR team wouldn’t giver her boss “anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to”when she complained that he propositioned her for sex.
The following month, Google parent company Alphabet sued Uber alleging several employees of Uber’s recently-acquired driverless car company Otto stole design secrets from Waymo, Alphabet’s driverless car company. And just a few weeks ago, Bloomberg BNA got a scoop that Uber is facing a criminal probe by the Department of Justice over its use of a software tool used to evade local transportation regulators in areas where its service has not yet been approved.
Below are some key facts about Salle Yoo and Uber’s legal department.
-- Yoo will continue to lead the company’s regulatory, legal and safety and insurance teams, but the new GC will take on day-to-day direction and operation of the legal and regulatory teams, Yoo said in an email to her staff, which was reviewed by Big Law Business.
-- In her new role, Yoo will work more closely with Liane Hornsey, Uber’s Chief HR Officer, in an effort to “help drive critical company initiatives like equal pay, increasing diversity in our business, and building a strong cultural foundation for the future of Uber,” Kalanick wrote in an internal email.
-- When Yoo joined Uber as its first GC in 2012, Uber’s only service was Uber Black (a limousine service), and she was the only employee in its legal department. Since then, Yoo’s legal team has grown to over 225 people working in over 30 locations around the world, according to an email she wrote to her team announcing the promotion. The insurance and safety team has over 100 employees, according to the email.
-- The legal team has been kept busy in those years. Since 2013, Uber’s federal court appearances have spiked from about 7 to over 75 per year, according to Bloomberg Law litigation analytics . About 18.8 percent of those cases have been general contract cases, and 18.3 percent have been labor disputes. Uber’s top five litigation outside counsel, according to Bloomberg Law, are Littler Mendelson (28.8 percent of appearances), Gibson Dunn & Crutcher (14 percent), Morrison & Foerster (9.2 percent), Quinn Emanuel (8.7 percent) and Morgan Lewis (7.4 percent).
-- Before going in-house, Yoo was a litigation partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, where her practiced focused on representing energy, telecommunications and technology firms in regulatory matters.
Through a spokesperson, Yoo declined to comment for this article.
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