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Pinterest Taps Ex Twitter Litigation Chief for Legal Department

Jan. 13, 2021, 6:40 PM

Pinterest Inc. has hired former Twitter Inc. lawyer Michele Lee as its new assistant general counsel, a role that will place her in charge of litigation, regulatory, and employment matters.

“The tech sector is often on the forefront of new technologies, and often with new technologies and issues come new regulations or regulatory scrutiny or legal challenges, and I love being at the forefront of evolving law and evolving legal issues,” Lee told Bloomberg Law.

Lee left her previous role as senior director and associate general counsel at Twitter in December, where she headed litigation, regulatory, and competition. She started work with Pinterest on Monday, and reports to Pinterest’s general counsel Christine Flores, a former Google lawyer who joined the company in 2017.

The San Francisco-based image sharing platform surpassed 400 million monthly users last summer.

Unlike Twitter and other Big Tech social media companies like Facebook Inc. and Google, Pinterest has largely escaped federal scrutiny over regulatory issues like consumer privacy and market domination.

“There are legal challenges that might initially emerge because of the largest, most dominant tech companies, but they ultimately impact the startups, the midsize companies, and the other players in the tech space,” Lee said.

But Pinterest has faced its own set of legal challenges in the form of several discrimination suits in recent years, including one filed by its former chief operating officer Francoise Brougher alleging gender discrimination and unequal pay. Her suit led to a virtual employee walkout in August 2020, and Pinterest later paid $20 million to settle the case.

Pinterest is also a defendant in another discrimination lawsuit filed in November 2020 alleging that two Black, female employees were underpaid in comparison to White, male coworkers. Pinterest did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.

Following the employee walkout last fall, Pinterest added at least four women to its predominantly male executive team and board of directors, according to company statements.

“We’re continuing to take steps to make Pinterest a company with an inspired culture where all employees are empowered and valued, as we build a product that reflects our diverse population of Pinners around the world,” Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said in a Dec. 11 statement announcing the company’s new “Inclusion Advisory Council.”

Prior to joining Pinterest, Lee worked for San Francisco-based Twitter for about six years, reaching the associate general counsel role in 2019.

Before that, Lee spent nearly three years with Visa Inc. and was a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. She began her career with law firms White & Case and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

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

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