Twitter Inc.‘s legal department, already culled of senior leaders and their deputies, is counting on a collection of lawyers not previously in line for leadership roles to shepherd it through immediate needs.
Christian Dowell, a former senior lawyer at Yahoo Inc. hired by Twitter in 2020, is overseeing product counsel, according to three people familiar with the matter. Jerusha Herman Roybal, promoted last month to senior legal director, has responsibility for commercial, corporate, and international legal, the people said. Pallet Machine
Renato Leite Monteiro, who was named global data protection officer in November, is handling privacy issues, the people said. Síne Creamer is heading safety, content, and law enforcement, they said. Mary Hansbury is the point person for labor and employment matters, Bloomberg Law reported last month.
Elon Musk’s cuts of thousands of employees after he took control of Twitter in late October have hewed the company’s legal, compliance, and public policy ranks. Most of Twitter’s roughly 200-employee legal staff has either been laid off, resigned, or otherwise departed, leaving at least a dozen survivors behind.
The company’s remaining lawyers, while qualified for their positions, are coping with significant employee attrition, complicating jobs already made difficult by a new boss in Musk who isn’t afraid to make known his feelings about legal counsel.
Musk fired Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer, and general counsel Sean Edgett. The company parted ways in mid-December with former head of international legal Regina Lima, who was the last lawyer who held the title of deputy general counsel. James Baker, Tina Hwang, Kevin Cope, and Damien Kieran are other deputies who have also left Twitter’s legal department.
An online jobs board at Twitter currently shows openings for at least three legal and public policy positions: US legal counsel for global litigation, regulatory, and competition; senior product legal counsel; and government affairs manager. All three jobs were tagged as “future opportunities.”
Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Musk said in late December he would step down as chief executive officer and focus on engineering once a successor is found.
The unofficial legal leadership structure currently in place at Twitter has its in-house lawyers trying to stitch together teams to address the legal and regulatory challenges the company faces. Twitter started off the new year with hackers claiming to have obtained email addresses for its roughly 230 million users.
Alex Spiro, Musk’s personal lawyer and a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, initially helped fill the legal leadership void at the company. He has since shifted his focus to other legal issues facing Musk, including a class action shareholder lawsuit related to Tesla Inc. headed for trial Jan. 17.
That case stems from an Aug. 7, 2018, “funding secured” tweet sent by Musk announcing he was considering taking private the electric automaker he controls.
Musk’s lawyers have sought to move the dispute from San Francisco to Texas, claiming that their client’s mass layoffs at Twitter have poisoned a potential jury pool in the Bay Area. Spiro is one of several Quinn Emanuel litigators counseling Musk in the case, which the firm took over from Cooley.
Twitter’s acquisition by Musk led to speculation the company would shake up its outside counsel roster, particularly with regard to its retention of Cooley and Perkins Coie, two firms that Musk has openly criticized on Twitter.
Still, despite Musk’s stated disdain for both firms, Twitter recently turned to Perkins Coie to replace Jenner & Block in a lawsuit filed against the company and its former CEO Jack Dorsey last year by conservative activist Laura Loomer.
Musk in an email told Reuters, which first reported on the matter, that an “error” by a “member of the Twitter team” was responsible for the mistaken retention.
“Perkins will not be representing Twitter on future cases,” he told the outlet.
The firm most often appearing for Twitter in US federal courts since 2007 was Perkins Coie with roughly 17% of the company’s caseload, according to Bloomberg Law data. Quinn Emanuel had almost 4% of Twitter cases during that time.
Perkins Coie, which in September hired former Twitter associate general counsel Noah Bialos as senior counsel for its privacy and security law practice, didn’t respond to a request for comment about its work on behalf of Musk-affiliated companies.
Quinn Emanuel, which saw Spiro represent Musk in his Twitter takeover fight, appears to be the early winner when it comes to receiving work from the company.
The firm recently pushed aside Cooley in another case related to allegations of child exploitation and replaced Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in a $10 million copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Twitter by swimsuit model Genevieve Morton. Wilson Sonsini advised Twitter on its sale to Musk.
Another Quinn Emanuel lawyer who has taken an interest in Twitter is Francis Suarez, an of counsel with the firm who also serves as mayor of Miami. Suarez has openly campaigned for Twitter to relocate its headquarters to the city from San Francisco, with Musk musing the Bay Area may be a bad fit for his company.
Suarez didn’t immediately respond to a comment request.
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