10 July 2020

Around the House: lawyers secure top roles at AXA XL and Coinbase

This week's in-house moves include Facebook deputy GC Paul Grewal taking a cryptocurrency role and former Lloyd's GC Sean McGovern becoming a CEO

By Victoria Basham



AXA XL, the property & casualty and specialty risk division of AXA, has named Sean McGovern (pictured) as CEO UK & Lloyd's market. He originally joined the XL Group in 2016 and has led in the claims, legal & compliance and regulatory & government affairs functions. The company notes that he played a key role in the merger of AXA Corporate Solutions, AXA Matrix, AXA Art and XL Catlin and the formation of AXA XL. He began his career at Clifford Chance before moving to Lloyd's of London, where he was appointed a director and GC. In 2014, he also became Lloyd's first chief risk officer and a member of the Franchise Board. Today, he is a board member of the Lloyd’s Market Association and chairman of the International Trade & Investment Group at TheCityUK, an advocacy group that promotes the UK financial services sector. AXA XL CEO Scott Gunter commented: "Sean’s deep understanding of AXA XL’s business, coupled with his significant knowledge and experience of the London and Lloyd’s market position him ideally to lead our UK and Lloyd’s presence." 

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has found a new CLO in the form of Paul Grewal, one of Facebook's legal leaders. A former magistrate judge for the Northern District of California, Grewal played significant roles in Apple v. Samsung and Oracle v. Google, two of the most closely watched technology cases of the decade. During his four years at Facebook he served as deputy general counsel and VP, heading regulatory affairs, litigation and commercial matters and growing his legal team to more than 200 people. He also had the unenviable task of being the company's public voice during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. "Paul’s mix of experience in private practice, as a federal judge and as a leading in-house lawyer will make for phenomenal addition to the executive management team at Coinbase," the company said in a press release announcing his hire. At Coinbase, which has been growing its in-house legal operations in recent months, Grewal takes over from Brian Brooks, who is now acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The move saw Brooks cash $4.6m in Coinbase stock.

The Brewers Association (BA) - the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American craft brewers - has announced the hire of Marc Sorini as its first GC. The Georgetown University graduate has served as a counsel for independent and small craft brewers for over two decades, most recently as a partner with McDermott Will & Emery. There, he represented the BA and its predecessor organization, the Brewers Association of America (BAA). “Having represented the Brewers Association as outside counsel since its formation, and the BAA before that, joining the BA in-house feels like coming home to the independent brewers that first inspired me to dedicate my legal career to alcohol beverage industry issues,” said Sorini. “I look forward to working with the BA to help small and independent craft brewers survive and thrive in a marketplace substantially altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, wholesaler consolidation, and the globalization of the beer industry.”

Deborah H. Telman is to be the new GC for Organon, Merck's intended spinoff of its women’s health, legacy brands and biosimilars businesses. She will be responsible for the company’s worldwide legal affairs, compliance and global environmental health & safety and will act as senior legal advisor to the board of directors, CEO and senior management. Telman will join Organon from Sorrento Therapeutics, where she served as SVP, GC and corporate secretary. She has previously held senior executive roles at companies including Abbott, Johnson Controls and Boeing. “Deb’s proven leadership, industry knowledge and expertise will serve Organon employees, customers and shareholders well,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “Her counsel will help set the new company on a path to positively impact the lives of patients and improve public health.” Merck notes that the appointment of a GC marks an "important milestone" as it prepares Organon to operate independently, which it says is on track for completion in the first half of 2021. 

Chubb has appointed John Fielding as SVP and GC, global government and industry affairs. In his new role, Fielding will provide legal, regulatory and policy guidance to Chubb's state, federal and international government affairs team. Fielding joins Chubb from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB), where he served as GC for four years. He was also Of Counsel with Steptoe & Johnson, where, for over a decade, he represented CIAB, as well as other insurance trade associations, carriers and producers before Congress, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the National Council of Insurance Legislators and state insurance regulators with respect to policy and regulatory matters. From 1997 to 2003, he was senior counsel for financial services at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Fielding, who is based in Washington, DC, reports to Joe Wayland, EVP, Chubb Group and GC. "We are delighted to welcome John to Chubb's government affairs group. In his distinguished career, John has been immersed in many of the most important legislative and regulatory issues affecting the insurance industry," said Wayland. "He is highly regarded for his expertise, leadership and effective advocacy in advancing the interests of the industry.  He's a strong addition to our government affairs team."

Pat Martin is joining the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) as the association's new general counsel. He is the former chief of the Criminal Division of the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, where he led a team specialising in litigating violations of federal criminal law including cybercrime and fraud. The NICB describes him as "a decorated career federal prosecutor and senior-level manager who has prosecuted and managed more than 80 Assistant United States Attorneys in some of the most sophisticated and high-profile criminal cases in the United States." Dave Glawe, NICB's president and CEO, commented: "We are honoured and fortunate to bring Pat on board. He has a wealth of legal experience — strategic and tactical — and extensive relationships that will benefit NICB in fulfilling its mission."

CUJO AI, a California-based network intelligence software company, has named Jeremy Otis as general counsel. Otis, who holds a Master of Laws from the Georgetown University Law Center, has been in-house for a number of Finnish security companies during his 25 years of practice in technology law in Finland and the US. He was senior legal counsel for three years at Nokia and joins CUJO AI from Wärtsilä Marine, where he served as legal director for the Americas based in Fort Lauderdale. Otis commented, "I am excited to join CUJO AI as General Counsel to support its next growth phase. The development and pace of change in cybersecurity have never been faster. I am convinced that my experience and background will benefit our efforts and goals in our success journey."  

FinTech firm Neudata has hired Donald D'Amico as its general counsel and in-house legal expert on alternative data. In addition to managing the company's legal affairs from the New York office, D'Amico will develop a due diligence offering for Neudata's investment management clients. "Data compliance continues to be a growing topic of interest among hedge funds, particularly as regulators like the SEC announce plans to investigate the buy-side's alternative data usage patterns more closely in 2020," said Neudata's CEO, Rado Lipuš. "Don will strengthen Neudata's compliance advisory service for clients and data providers at a time when it's critical to get this aspect of data usage right." D'Amico has previous experience in the alternative data space, having spent three years as legal counsel at Davidson Kempner Capital Management, where he onboarded third-party research providers and conducted related due diligence. He most recently worked as an associate within Hughes Hubbard & Reed's corporate practice.

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