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Five Facts About Michael O’Sullivan, the New GC of Snap

Aug. 1, 2017, 7:20 PM

A week after its general counsel stepped down, Snap Inc. has a new one: Michael O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan will be taking over for Chris Handman, a veteran of Hogan Lovells and Snap Inc.’s GC since May 2014. Handman left the company last week to spend more time with his family, he said in a statement to Snap Inc. staff.

O’Sullivan will take over the legal team, which includes several dozen attorneys and staff, six months after Snap Inc. had its initial public offering. “We are thrilled to welcome Mike to the Snap Inc. family,” a spokesman from the company said in a statement.

Here are five facts about Snap Inc.’s newly minted general counsel O’Sullivan:

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1. O’Sullivan comes to the social media company from Munger, Tolles & Olson, where he was a partner in their Los Angeles office. He joined the firm in 1996 and his primary area of practice was financial law, focusing on mergers and acquisitions and securities law. Munger, Tolles & Olson is also the firm where John W. Spiegel, the father of Snapchat CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel, is a partner who specializes in general commercial, securities and white collar litigation. “For 21 years, Mike O’Sullivan has been an incredibly valued colleague and friend, who has played an integral role in many of the firm’s critical matters,” said Ronald L. Olson, a name partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson in a statement. “Mike will be a fantastic addition to the strong legal team Snap has built.”

2. He graduated from USC Gould School of Law, where he served as the executive notes editor on the Southern California Law Review. O’Sullivan has also taught legal writing and is listed as a lecturer at USC.

3. During his time at Munger, Tolles & Olson, O’Sullivan was involved in major litigation surrounding financial firms and tech companies. He represented Bank of America as a plaintiff and defendant during litigation that arose from the 2008 financial crisis. He also represented the founders of Google during its initial IPO among other high-profile clients.

4. Los Angeles Magazine once named O’Sullivan a rising star in the city. At the time, he wrote the “Corp Law Blog” where he discussed the minutiae of legal writing, like when to use the phrase “As Amended,” and corporate regulatory legislation like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. It’s long gone, but can be accessed through the web archive, the Wayback Machine,over here .

5. O’Sullivan will grapple with thorny issues like privacy and data security in his new role. He will continue to develop Snap Inc.’s legal framework such as its privacy policies, which previously came under fire by the FTC. The agency claimed Snap Inc. deceived consumers by saying that messages sent through the app would disappear permanently and also alleged that Snapchat’s data storage wasn’t properly secured. Snap Inc. settled charges with the FTC in 2014. The settlement prohibited Snapchat from “misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy, security, or confidentiality of users’ information,” according to an FTC release. The company is also required to implement a 20-year privacy program that an independent expert will sporadically review.

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