05 June 2019

Around the house

Two innovation companies hire their first-ever general counsel, while a merchant bank ends its search after general counsel announced retirement last year.


The writing app Grammarly has appointed its first general counsel. Virginia Badenhope, now the sole member of Grammarly's legal department, is expected to have an “organizational vision and plan in place” and hire two in-house lawyers by the end of her first year. Ms Badenhope is an in-house lawyer with a history of working for California-based tech businesses, and joins from Atlassian, where she was deputy general counsel in charge of the commercial, privacy, and intellectual property functions of the legal department.

ClearDATA is another hiring its first general counsel. The healthcare information technology company has appointed Thomas McKeever as general counsel and chief legal officer. The position has been created as ClearDATA expands its global compliance capabilities and increases its focus on innovation, according to the company. Before joining ClearDATA, Mr McKeever worked in Silicon Valley for almost a decade as general counsel and senior vice president for corporate development at Actuate Corporation before managing its sale to OpenText. He also served as acting general counsel for e-commerce company Shutterfly, as well as for Accela, where he created, managed and trained on policy, procedure and compliance including creating a government relations compliance program.

Merchant bank Close Brothers has ended a long search for a new general counsel by appointing lending start-up RateSetter general counsel Angela Yotov. After 10 years in the in-house team at Barclays Bank, Ms Yotov moved into the RateSetter role as head of legal. The bank announced last year that Elizabeth Lee would be retiring as the company's legal head at the end of July 2019. Ms Lee joined Close Brothers as general counsel in September 2009 and was further appointed as a director in August 2012. Preben Prebensen, chief executive at Close Brothers Group, said“On behalf of the board I would like to thank Elizabeth for her very substantial contribution over the last several years and wish her all the best for the future.”

Accenture has named Joel Unruch general counsel, secretary and chief compliance officer to succeed Chad Jerdee, who is taking on a newly created role to lead Accenture’s global strategy and programs focused on responsible business, corporate sustainability and citizenship. These changes are effective September 1, 2019. Mr Unruch is currently senior managing director - deputy general counsel and corporate secretary, with responsibility for Accenture’s corporate governance activities, working closely with its board of directors. He also leads the Legal organization’s activities related to global acquisitions, dispositions and strategic minority investments, as well as its ecosystem and alliances practice. Prior to joining Accenture in May 2011, he was corporate counsel at Amazon.com and previously an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. Mr Jerdee has served as Accenture’s general counsel and chief compliance officer since 2015.

AXA Equitable has promoted Kermitt Brooks to general counsel. Mr Brooks replaces Dave Hattem, a 25-year veteran who was named chief legal officer of parent company AXA Equitable Holdings Inc. Mr Brooks is a member of the AXA Equitable Holdings Management Committee, and responsible for the oversight of the law department, including the corporate, compliance, insurance, funds management and government relations practice groups. Previously, he served as deputy general counsel for AXA Equitable Life, where he expertly managed an array of complex state insurance and federal securities matters. Prior to joining AXA Equitable Life, Mr Brooks served as first deputy superintendent and acting superintendent for the New York State Insurance Department.

Global Manufacturing Company SPX FLOW has appointed Peter Ryan as the new general counsel, replacing former general counsel Stephen Tsoris, who also served as vice president and secretary, following his sudden retirement after 11 years at the company.  Mr Ryan has been a member of the legal team for 13 years. Mr Ryan succeeds Mr Tsoris effective immediately, and will serve as a corporate officer reporting directly to Marc Michael, President and Chief Executive Officer.  Mr Ryan and Mr Tsoris will be working together through the month of July to ensure a smooth transition.

Thermal management technologies company Gentherm is promoting Wayne Kauffman to the position of vice president and general counsel, effective July 1, 2019. The appointment follows the announcement by Kenneth Phillips that he will resign from his position as senior vice president and general counsel at the end of the month. Gentherm stated Mr Phillips has decided to leave the company for personal reasons. An SEC filing states that he will remain employed as a non-executive officer of the company from July 1 until September 1, 2019 to help with the transition of his duties to his successor. Mr Kauffman has worked at Gentherm since 2013 and is at present chief intellectual property (IP) counsel and associate general counsel. In his new role, Kauffman will oversee all legal matters for the company including corporate governance, IP, litigation, securities regulation, compliance and data privacy. He will report to president and CEO Phil Eyler and sit on the company’s executive committee.

Deloitte Hungary has hired Eniko Uveges as its new head of in-house legal department. Ms Uveges joins from Cargill, where she worked as the lead lawyer in Budapest since September 2013. Prior to joining Cargill she worked as a Corporate Director with HungaroControl, the Hungarian Air Navigation Services, between 2011 and 2013, and as the legal director for GTS Hungary between 2008 and 2011, and as a legal counsel for GTS-Datanet between 2004 and 2008.

Teri Plummer McClure, the first black general counsel at UPS, is to retire. Currently, Ms McClure is chief human resources officer and senior vice president, labor of UPS. She has responsibility for Human Resources, Employee Communications and Labor Relations for the company's 481,000 employees worldwide. She is also a member of the company's Management Committee, which is responsible for setting strategy, profit and operating plans for the company's worldwide operations. Ms McClure joined the UPS Corporate legal department in 1995, and was promoted into various legal roles including vice president. She was appointed General Counsel and Corporate Secretary in 2006, and subsequently assumed responsibility for Compliance and Ethics, Audit, and Communications. In 2015 Teri assumed her current position.

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