Around the house: NFL team Buffalo Bills dismisses GC and names interim, UK fusion energy pioneer hires former Rolls Royce counsel

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Enbridge, Lyra Therapeutics, Rocket Software and Arival Bank

Buffalo Bills are on the hunt for a new GC JoanneStrell /

Buffalo Bills appoints interim GC after previous legal chief is dismissed

US American football team Buffalo Bills have named Jim Overdorf as interim general counsel after firing GC Kathryn D’Angelo for having a romantic relationship with chief operating officer John Roth, The Athletic and Associated Press reported.

D’Angelo was promoted to GC in April, having previously been assistant GC. She joined the franchise in 2016 as counsel from Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria where she was an associate attorney specialising in business litigation and corporate law. Prior to that she was an assistant district attorney at the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.

Sources told The Athletic that Roth had recommended D’Angelo for promotion and the pair’s relationship – which had become known while the Bills were playing in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier in October – was considered professionally unethical.

Interim GC Overdorf is a longtime football operations advisor, having joined the Bills in 1986. He will stand in while the Bills find a permanent replacement for D’Angelo.

The Bills are owned by US billionaire Terry Pegula, who made his money in the oil and gas industry. He also owns ice hockey team Buffalo Sabres. One of his daughters is US tennis player Jessica Pegula.

Fusion energy start-up names ex-Rolls Royce counsel as first GC

UK cleantech business Tokamak Energy has hired former Rolls Royce lawyer Christian Lowis as its first general counsel amid efforts to expand its commercial fusion energy business.

Lowis joins after just under nine years at Rolls Royce, where he was chief counsel for operations and procurement, bringing with him extensive supply chain and transactions experience. At Tokamak he will help spearhead the company’s commercial growth and join its leadership team.

Warrick Matthews, CEO of Tokamak Energy, said: “We are working with an increasing number of major organisations across the world to achieve our mission of delivering clean, secure and affordable fusion in the 2030s, and Christian’s experience will be invaluable in securing the best position for the company, especially related to our intellectual property and knowledge. I look forward to the guidance he will provide.”

Prior to his time at Rolls Royce, Lowis spent just under two years as a corporate partner at DWF and more than seven years at legacy firm Squire Sanders (now Squire Patton Boggs). He started his legal career at legacy firm Wragge & Co. (now Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co.).

He said: “I have been watching Tokamak Energy’s progress for a number of years and am proud to be appointed its first general counsel. The company has world-leading expertise and intellectual property to protect in the complementary technologies of spherical tokamaks and HTS magnets. I’m excited by this new chapter as we accelerate towards commercial fusion, and the promise of clean energy for generations.”

Tokamak was founded in 2009 and has since raised £250m through private investors and government funding.

Enbridge names replacement for outgoing CLO

Canadian energy company Enbridge has named Reggie Hedgebeth as its new chief legal officer, replacing current CLO Bob Rooney who is stepping down from the role at the end of the year.

Hedgebeth joined Enbridge last month as an executive advisor and will take over as CLO on 1 January. He was previously CLO at US investment management firm Capital Group, which he left in June. At Enbridge, Hedgebeth will be responsible for all legal services, as well as ethics and compliance, corporate security, public affairs, communications and sustainability, and aviation.

Greg Ebel, president and CEO of Enbridge, said: "I am pleased to welcome Reggie as he is an exceptional leader whose legal capabilities and experience in the upstream and downstream energy and financial services sectors will serve Enbridge well.”

Prior to his time at Capital Group, Hedgebeth spent four years as general counsel at Marathon Oil Corporation and eight years as GC at Spectra Energy before that. He also had in-house spells at electronics retailer Circuit City (as GC) and The Home Depot (as vice president for legal, commercial and regulatory). He started his legal career as an associate at King & Spalding.

Rooney, meantime, will stay on until mid-2024 to support the transition. He has been at the company since 2017.

US biotech firm Lyra hires pharma veteran as CLO

US clinical-stage biotech company Lyra Therapeutics has hired Ronan O’Brien as its chief legal officer.

O’Brien brings with him more than 25 years of legal experience, joining from Pear Therapeutics, where he has spent the past five years as general counsel, also adding chief compliance officer to his remit at the start of last year. At Lyra, he will oversee the legal department and support the business as it seeks to develop treatments for chronic rhinosinusitis, or CRS.

Maria Palasis, Lyra’s CEO, said: “[O’Brien’s] significant legal experience, including building and leading the legal function of a commercial company, is important as we ultimately aim to evolve from a clinical enterprise into a commercial one.”

Prior to his time at Pear, he spent a year and a half at Selecta Biosciences where he was an associate GC. He also had a spell at Cerulean Pharma as associate GC. Prior to his in-house career, he worked in private practice at K&L Gates in Boston before moving to Seyfarth Shaw, where he was a corporate partner for more than six years. He then spent two years as a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig.

He said: “I look forward to helping the company advance towards commercialising its two products for the treatment of CRS in collaboration with the Lyra team.”

Bain-backed Rocket hires experienced tech CLO

US software developer Rocket Software has hired Liz Fischer as its chief legal officer.

Fischer joins from direct-to-consumer e-commerce business Perch, where she was general counsel, responsible for all legal matters including managing the company’s intellectual property portfolio and litigation. She will assume similar responsibilities at Rocket.

Her arrival was part of a trio of senior hires, which also included new chief revenue officer Alyse Daghelian and new president of its data modernisation unit Michael Curry.

Milan Shetti, Rocket’s CEO, said: “The appointments of Alyse, Michael and Liz reflect our dedication to growth and innovation, and our commitment to the highest ethical values… With her expertise in M&A, technology licensing and corporate governance, Liz emphasises our commitment to upholding top-tier legal standards.”

Prior to her time at Perch, Fischer was GC at cybersecurity ratings company BitSight and before that, assistant GC at Constant Contact, an online marketing company. She started her legal career as an associate at Goodwin Procter, where she worked in its technology companies group.

She said: “I look forward to contributing legal guidance to a team that exhibits such dedication and high ethical standards to its mission of helping customers modernise without disruption.”

Rocket is backed by private equity giant Bain Capital.

Arival Bank appoints GC following CEO appointment

Puerto Rico-based digital bank Arival Bank has appointed Nishi Gupta as general counsel.

Gupta joins from US payments fintech Eco, where he was head of compliance. He will also serve as chief compliance officer at Arival.

Prior to joining Eco, Gupta spent a decade at American Express, where he was vice president for global financial crimes compliance. He was also previously associate counsel at Take-Two Interactive Software and a legal analyst in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

Gupta’s arrival follows the approval in September of Bill Papp as CEO of the bank. He initially joined Arival Group as chief revenue officer in January. 

On Gupta’s appointment, Papp wrote on LinkedIn: “Beyond thrilled to have you part of the ‘A’ Team.”

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