American International Group Inc.: Lucy Fato, formerly GC at Nardello & Co., became general counsel at New York-based AIG in mid-October. Fato replaced Peter Solmssen, who was AIG’s GC since 2016 and was retiring, according to the company.
Apple Inc.: When Apple GC Bruce Sewell decided to retire after eight years with the company, he gave his bosses more than a year’s notice so they could prepare to replace him. After an 18 month search, Apple named Katherine (Kate) Adams, formerly GC at Honeywell International Inc., as its next general counsel on Oct. 6. Sewell remains at the company until year’s end.
Caterpillar Inc.: Suzette Long slowly worked her way up the Caterpillar ladder, from corporate counsel in 2004 to deputy general counsel in 2013 to general counsel of the construction equipment firm in 2017. She replaced James Buda, who worked for 30 years in Caterpillar’s legal department before retiring on May 1. Long ran the legal department on an interim basis until she was given the GC title in mid-October.
FedEx Corp.: Mark Allen is another newly named corporate general counsel who climbed the ranks of his company for 35 years, working all over the world. He moved into the top role in mid-October after serving as GC of FedEx Express, the company’s airline freight subsidiary. He replaced Christine Richards, who announced her retirement in July.
Goldman Sachs Group: In the most recent announcement, Goldman Sachs said on Dec. 19 that Karen Seymour, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, will join the investment bank in January as co-general counsel. She will share the overall legal duties with existing GC Gregory Palm, who, at 69, is nearing retirement. She also will serve on the firm’s management committee. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
PepsiCo Inc.: In another example of staying power, David Yawman started at PepsiCo in 1998 and worked his way up to being named general counsel on Oct. 27. Yawman replaced Tony West, who left after three years in the GC role to lead the troubled legal department at Uber Technologies Inc.
Uber Technologies Inc.: Beset by both civil and criminal legal issues too numerous to mention here, Uber brought in heavy hitter Tony West as chief legal officer in November. West is the former GC at PepsiCo and a former Associate U.S. Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2012 to 2014. He replaced CLO Salle Yoo, who announced in September that she was leaving the company once she helped her replacement get settled.
Viacom Inc.: After nearly 23 years in Viacom’s legal department, general counsel Michael Fricklas left the company May 26 to pursue other ventures. He was replaced by deputy GC Christa d’Alimonte, who joined Viacom in 2012. In 2016 Fricklas was caught in the middle of a Viacom upheaval as the founding family of Sumner Redstone fought for and won back control of the media empire. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Wells Fargo & Co.: This bank, besieged by legal problems and a severely damaged reputation, brought in highly regarded lawyer Allen Parker in March as its new general counsel. Parker is the former long-time presiding partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York. He replaced GC James Strother, who delayed his retirement at the end of 2016 until Parker could take on the post.
Yahoo Inc.: Arthur Chong, former general counsel at Broadcom Corp., became general counsel at Yahoo on March 10. He replaced Ronald Bell, who resigned 10 days earlier after an independent investigation found that Yahoo’s legal team failed to sufficiently investigate a massive 2014 data breach at the company. After Verizon Communications Inc.’s acquisition of Yahoo’s operating business, Chong will continue as top lawyer for the remaining part of the company, Altaba Inc.
There were a lot of new faces in general counsel offices around the country in 2017. Whether battered by corporate legal problems or just ready to retire, a number of top GCs moved on.