Cognizant Compliance Chief Follows Former Colleagues With Exit

Sept. 15, 2021, 5:51 PM

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. reshuffled its in-house legal ranks this year as the information technology and consulting company named a new law department leader and moved to put behind it a long-running corporate bribery scandal.

Amy Schuh left her job as Cognizant’s senior vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer to join Morgan, Lewis & Bockius on Sept. 13 as a corporate ethics, compliance, and white-collar investigations partner in Philadelphia.

Cognizant’s former general counsel, Matthew Friedrich, hired Schuh in 2017, the same year he joined the company. Friedrich left in late 2020 after he was hired to be the new top lawyer at UnitedHealth Group Inc. John Kim, who was Cognizant’s deputy general counsel for commercial contracts, replaced Friedrich in January.

Cognizant, a provider of outsourcing services, works with the federal government and large companies, including Facebook Inc., which faced litigation from former contract content moderators that Cognizant hired.

Earlier this month, Cognizant agreed to pay $95 million in a settlement of securities fraud claims related to the company’s business operations in India. Two former Cognizant executives, including former chief legal officer Steven Schwartz, have been charged with violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Schwartz, who preceded Friedrich has Cognizant’s top in-house lawyer, has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he and former company president Gordon Coburn directed through a third-party contractor a $2 million payment to an Indian government official in 2014. At the time, Cognizant was building a corporate campus for its outsourcing business in the Indian city of Chennai.

Cognizant paid $25 million in 2019 to settle civil charges filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it violated the FCPA.

Schuh, a veteran compliance executive who briefly worked as a litigation associate at Morgan Lewis more than a decade ago, is one of several Cognizant in-house lawyers that have left the company so far this year. Neither she nor Morgan Lewis responded to requests for comment about her decision to depart.

Morgan Lewis has been a key legal adviser to Cognizant, which has a number of different matters on its litigation docket. The company within the past five years has turned to Morgan Lewis for outside counsel on more than 25% of its litigation caseload in U.S. federal courts, according to Bloomberg Law data.

Cognizant, headquartered in Teaneck, N.J., didn’t disclose to Bloomberg Law whether it has yet named a successor to Schuh as compliance chief.

“Cognizant generally does not comment on individuals, or their comings and goings, as a matter of personal privacy,” the company said in a statement. Under the leadership of Kim as general counsel, Cognizant has continued to “recruit and hire more great talent,” the statement said.

Kim, who also serves as Cognizant’s chief corporate affairs officer and corporate secretary, owns roughly $353,000 in Cognizant stock, according to Bloomberg data. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Cognizant disclosed in a proxy statement filed earlier this year that during 2020 it paid Friedrich, Kim’s predecessor as legal chief, nearly $6.2 million in total compensation, including more than $1.2 million in cash.

Legal Entanglements

Among those that have joined Schuh in leaving Cognizant this year are former chief regulatory officer Stacy Knowlton and chief counsel for global litigation Jacob Hill.

Both lawyers left in June to respectively join insurer Friday Health Plans as an associate chief counsel and orthodontics manufacturer Align Technology Inc. as associate general counsel for global litigation and employment.

Cognizant also saw associate general counsel for labor and employment Jason Glenn exit in March to take a role as a global employment counsel at event management software company Hopin Ltd.

Fellow former Cognizant associate general counsel Jonathan Shamay Draluck recently became chief legal officer for The Tomorrow Cos. Inc., a weather intelligence startup formerly known as ClimaCell Inc. that’s received financial backing from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp.

The departures have partly been offset by Cognizant’s addition in June of former Washington-based Eversheds Sutherland partner Michael Steinig to be a deputy general counsel for the company and general counsel of its North American arm. Cognizant also recruited two former Big Law associates—Brittany Hazelwood and Montgomery Gim—last year for corporate counsel roles.

Other new legal hires by Cognizant last year were deputy general counsel and global head of litigation, labor and employment, and legal operations Claudius Sokenua former partner at three large law firms—and associate director of ethics and compliance Linda Regis-Hallinan, most recently a litigator at Cozen O’Connor.

Cognizant also brought on Tobi Young, a former clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, last year as a vice president of government affairs and legal.

Young, believed to be the first Native American clerk in the high court’s history, is lobbying on behalf of Cognizant at the federal level on issues related to artificial intelligence and privacy, bilateral relations with India, corporate tax reform, cybersecurity, health care and telemedicine, immigration reform, the Paycheck Protection Program, and workforce development and retraining, public filings show.

Cognizant has also recently been to court to contest its mounting legal bills in the defense of Schwartz, who left the company in late 2016.

In June, Cognizant sued Bohrer PLLC, a New York-based firm that has been representing Schwartz in the criminal case. Cognizant, which is being represented in that dispute by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, has accused Bohrer of fraudulent billing practices and is seeking $20 million in damages. The company is paying for Schwartz’s legal defense as part of a provision in his employment contract.

Bohrer managing partner Jeremy Bohrer, a former partner at Brown Rudnick and general counsel for hedge fund advisory firm Level Global Investors LP, has called Cognizant’s lawsuit “outrageous” and filled with “false allegations.” His firm filed a motion to dismiss that litigation in August. Cognizant stated in court filings that it paid $23.3 million to Bohrer between January 2019 and April of this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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