02 October 2019

Around the house

In this week's moves around the house general counsels find their holy grail, while a tech company rocks on with their new appointee.


GRAIL, a healthcare company whose mission is to detect cancer early, when it can be cured, has appointed Marissa Song as general counsel and corporate secretary, with responsibility for overseeing GRAIL’s legal and corporate compliance functions. Ms Song joins GRAIL from Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical company where she spent more than 14 years, most recently serving as vice president of corporate legal. There, she led the corporate governance and SEC reporting group as well as the teams supporting finance, human resources, privacy and information governance, product development and manufacturing, global facilities, and clinical trials.

Ex-BlackRock executive Howard Surloff has joined wallet provider Blockchain as the first general counsel to join Blockchain’s executive team. Also on the executive team is the company’s president and chief legal officer, Marco Santori.  Mr Surloff comes with a combined 25 years of executive experience at BlackRock and Goldman Sachs, according to a Blockchain press release. While he has spent his entire life in traditional finance, he believes he’s equipped to help blaze a trail in the crypto-regulatory frontier.  Mr Surloff had held positions including deputy general counsel and global chief operating officer at BlackRock’s ETF arm, iShares. He also served on several of the firm’s key committees and helped navigate BlackRock through 13 acquisitions.

US President Donald Trump has nominated James Danly to one of two open seats on the panel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees the US power grid, approves utility mergers and grants permits for natural gas pipelines. If confirmed, Mr Danly, the general counsel, would fill the Republican slot on the commission, which has been vacant since the death of former chairman Kevin McIntyre at the beginning of the year. His term will last until June 30, 2023, the White House said in a statement.

Verus International has appointed its new general counsel, naming industry veteran Michael McGowan to the role. Mr McGowan brings more than 25 years of experience to this new position, most recently serving in a similar role at the restaurant company Cava Group, where he led the legal efforts for the acquisition of Zoe’s Kitchen for approximately $300 million in November 2018. Previously, he served as a corporate consultant to Neustar, which was publicly traded until it was acquired for approximately $2.9 billion and taken private in August 2017. His private company experience includes the role of general counsel at AddThis, a data solutions company that was acquired by Oracle in 2016.

City National Bank has named Michael Speaker as its new general counsel. The American private and business Bank appointed Mr Speaker, an attorney of over 15 years of experience, as its executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. He has led teams of attorneys covering commercial lending and leasing, wealth and asset management, insurance, securities, and capital markets, among others. Based in Los Angeles, Mr Speaker oversees the Legal and Corporate Administrative Group, which consists of legal and corporate governance, community reinvestment and corporate security.

FinTrU has expanded its leadership team with a new general counsel. FinTrU has appointed Roli Shaw as to the position of general counsel - head of FinTrU Legal. Mr Shaw has over 17 years’ experience in legal and financial services, having worked within private legal practice and financial institutions during that time. Prior to joining FinTrU, he ran the legal department for Citibank, where he was responsible for a group of over 100 legal professionals supporting their markets, capital markets, securities and treasury functions in EMEA. At FinTrU, Mr Shaw is general counsel, a member of the Executive Leadership team and is responsible for ensuring the effective operation of the legal team, successful delivery of legal and documentation services to clients, development of all people and providing senior leadership to the management team and the whole organisation.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has welcomed a new associate general counsel, Gail Matthews. She joins ANSI from the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), where she served as the deputy chief of its civil division since 2003. In her new role at ANSI, Ms. Matthews will provide legal support to ANSI and its affiliates, the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and Workcred. She joined the United States Attorney's Office in 1997 as an assistant US Attorney, and began her litigation career at two large international law firms.

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