07 August 2019

Around the house

It's summer and general counsels are doing the splits, while trend of c-suite appointments continues.

The UK telecom giant BT has decided to split the role of tech and transformation general counsel, with the appointment of Chris Fowler as technology general counsel for BT Group. The group cited “an increasingly demanding and expanding technology agenda” since the arrival of CEO Philip Jansen earlier this year.

Also doing the splits is media company National Geographic Partners, with the appointment of two lawyers to lead split business and legal divisions and lead newly created separate teams. National Geographic Partners’ Jeff Schneider, executive vice president of television business affairs, and Evelyn Miller, deputy chief counsel have been from in-house the leadership roles.

Continuing the trend of c-suite promotions, the Axon Neuroscience general counsel has been promoted to ceo. Michal Fresser is the latest in a trend of general counsel taking up top leadership positions at their companies. Mr Fresser, currently general counsel of Axon Neuroscience SE, has been named the company’s chief executive officer.

Another high-profile in-house move is Ruwan de Soyza, who has joined FTSE 100 company Halma as its first general counsel and company secretary. Mr De Soyza announced in November he was leaving payment processing company Worldpay after nearly eight years for a FTSE 100 technology company. He was confirmed this week as joining Halma, a global group of life-saving technology companies, with a position on the executive board and responsibility for legal and compliance affairs.

Erica Handling has left funds manager BlackRock. Ms Handling has left BlackRock after four years, where she was EMEA general counsel and managed a team of around 60 lawyers with responsibility for legal services to BlackRock’s European offices in London, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Hungary. A former Ashurst lawyer, she moved from EMEA gc at Barclays to BlackRock in 2015.  Ms Handling has been replaced at BlackRock by Ben Archibald, an in-house lawyer at the firm since 2010.

Eleanor Lacey, previously chief legal officer for Sophos, has been appointed at San Francisco-based Asana as its head of legal and general counsel. She is the first person to hold the role at the company. Ms Lacey previously served as chief legal officer at the global cyber-security software company Sophos. Prior to that, she led legal teams for companies including SurveyMonkey, Corel Corporation and Niku Corporation.

Zurich North America has appointed a new chief legal office from in-house. Laura Lazarczyk is succeeding Dennis Kerrigan, who left the company earlier this year. Ms Lazarczyk tis being promted o become its new permanent clo, general counsel and corporate secretary, reporting directly to group general counsel Yannick Hausmann. She previously served as associate general counsel and has been acting North America clo since Mr Kerrigan’s departure. Ms Lazarczyk has been an assistant and an associate general counsel since she joined Zurich North America in 2009.

Eightfold, an AI-based talent recruiting platform has appointed Roy Wang, an ex-big law partner experienced in machine learning, to lead the startup's legal department. Mr Wang, who is also an AI expert, joins as the first ever general counsel of Eightfold, a tech firm founded by a pair of former engineers for Google and Facebook.

LendUp has hired a n new chief legal officer along with a new chief risk officer. Gizelle Barany has been named the chief legal officer and secretary and Chris Lewis will be the chief risk and compliance officer, both replacing Pia Thompson, who was the general counsel, chief risk officer and secretary from 2018 to 2019. LendUp is a a San Francisco-based financial technology company.

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors has selected Gene Gamez as the agency’s new General Counsel. Mr Gamez, who has been litigating for DART for more than 19 years, will oversee its roughly 10-attorney legal department. He moves up from his current role of senior assistant general counsel.

On a sad note, Alistair Asher, an Allen & Overy partner turned Co-op general counsel has passed away, aged 63. Mr Asher joined as the Co-operative Group’s first general counsel in 2013.