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Walmart Hires Baker Donelson Partner Amid Healthcare Push (1)

Aug. 11, 2021, 4:17 PMUpdated: Aug. 11, 2021, 6:52 PM

Walmart Inc. has named former Baker Donelson shareholder Julie Kass as lead counsel, Public Health and Omnichannel Health & Wellness.

The retail giant announced in a statement Wednesday that Kass will work with Walmart’s government affairs team to shape public health initiatives and report to Jeanine Jiganti, senior vice president, general counsel, Walmart Health and Wellness.

“I look forward to supporting the business and contributing as part of the Health and Wellness Legal team,” Kass said in a statement. “If any corporation has the ability, size and scale to drive better, more affordable healthcare options in our country, it’s Walmart.”

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Ark., has boosted its healthcare business recently with new health care clinics and the launch of its lower-cost insulin brand ReliOn NovoLog in June. The company hired pharmaceutical industry veteran John Wigneswaran as its second chief medical officer in July.

The company, which is the largest private employer in the U.S with 1.6 million employees, also announced a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for certain staff effective Oct. 4 as the Delta variant drives cases up and corporations grapple with return-to-office plans and whether to require vaccinations.

Since March, Walmart’s legal team has lost three ethics and compliance legal leaders to companies like Tesla Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc., including global chief ethics and compliance officer Daniel Trujillo. Trujillo first joined Walmart in 2012, and Walmart has not yet named his successor.

Before her time with Baker Donelson, Kass was a principal at Ober Kaler, where she worked for 16 years. Kass has also worked for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services as senior counsel.

“I’m delighted that someone of Julie’s expertise and experience is joining our legal team to help the company grow our healthcare business and address the public health challenges every company is facing during the pandemic,” Walmart chief legal officer and executive vice president Rachel Brand said in the statement.

(Updates Kass job title in snapshot and paragraphs one and two.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com