Around the house: Swedish steelmaker lands new legal chief, Dollar Tree reveals interim GC

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Workbox, Korro Bio, Invariant and Cordance

Lars Sjöbring joins SSAB this month Photo courtesy of SSAB

Swedish steelmaker names replacement for outgoing legal head

Swedish steel company SSAB has appointed Lars Sjöbring as its new head of legal affairs and general counsel, replacing Jonas Bergstrand who announced his departure in January.

Sjöbring brings with him more than 25 years of in-house and private practice experience, most recently as chief legal officer at EF Education First. At SSAB, he will oversee the firm’s global legal matters. He is due to join on May 15 and will be based in the company’s Stockholm headquarters.

Martin Lindqvist, SSAB’s president and CEO, said: “[Sjöbring] has extensive legal experience from both Europe and the USA, and I am convinced that he will contribute in the best possible way to our journey towards a fossil-free and industry-leading company.”

Prior to joining EF, Sjöbring spent just under four years at automotive technology company Veoneer as GC and executive vice president of legal affairs and just under three years as GC and group vice president of legal affairs at Autoliv in Detroit – his second spell at the company having previously worked there for more six years in its Stockholm office (Veoneer was spun out of Autoliv in 2018). He also spent almost two years at offshore drilling company Transocean in Geneva and had earlier stints at Nokia (as director for M&A legal) and Telia (as corporate counsel). He spent just under three years in private practice at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in New York.

Bergstrand exits after 17 years at SSAB and will be taking over as GC at Volvo Construction Equipment this summer. Lindqvist said Bergstrand has played an important role in building SSAB into the company it is today as a leader in the steel industry’s green transition.

Dollar Tree reveals GC change following former legal chief’s exit after just three months

US discount retailer Dollar Tree has appointed John Mitchell as its interim general counsel following the departure of previous legal chief Janet Dhillon, Bloomberg Law reported.

Mitchell joined Dollar Tree in 2021 as senior deputy GC from Williams Mullen, where he was a partner and outside counsel to Dollar Tree. Dhillon only joined the firm in November and left in February, according to her LinkedIn profile – just a month after Richard Dreiling took over as the company’s new CEO.

Dhillon was a high-profile hire for the company, having previously been appointed as chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by then president Donald Trump. She also served as the EEOC’s commissioner from 2021 until joining Dollar Tree last November. Prior to her time at the EEOC, she was a top lawyer in the retail industry, serving as GC at Burlington Stores and JC Penney. She also served as GC and chief compliance officer at US Airways (now part of American Airlines), which she joined after almost 13 years at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

Mitchell spent more than 17 years at Williams Mullen before joining Dollar Tree. Prior to that he was an associate at Hofheimer Nusbaum for just shy of a decade.

Dollar Tree appointed Dreiling as CEO in January, replacing Mike Witynski, who was promoted to CEO in 2020 after a decade at the company. Dreiling had been the company’s executive chairman since March last year.

US flexible office business Workbox hires first GC

Chicago-based flexible office space-provider Workbox has hired Kristen Benson as its first general counsel as it seeks to develop its legal processes and mitigate corporate risk.

Benson brings with her more than 25 years of legal experience, having most recently worked at Care Capital Properties, where she was GC and corporate secretary. At Workbox, Benson will be responsible for the company’s legal function and will advise on real estate partnerships, corporate structure and the company’s in-house venture fund, Workbox Ventures.

John Wallace, CEO and co-founder of Workbox, said: “Kristen possesses a wealth of institutional knowledge and her experience in real estate will be critical to us successfully reimagining the flex operator and landlord relationship in this new era of work.”

Benson spent two years at Care Capital Properties before it was acquired by Sabra Health Care REIT in 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile. She previously spent just over 11 years at Ventas before it spun out its Care Capital Properties business. Prior to that, Benson worked in private practice for almost seven years at Sidley Austin.

She said: “John and his team have built an excellent company with a unique offering in the flex office market, and I look forward to working with them to help drive value for the company’s investors and contribute to its members’ success.”

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Korro lands experienced IP lawyer for new GC role

US genetic medicine developer Korro Bio has appointed Shelby Walker as its first general counsel as the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company seeks to establish itself as a leading RNA editing business.

Walker joins from CRISPR Therapeutics, where she was senior vice president for intellectual property. At Korro she will lead the legal department, including its IP, corporate governance and compliance functions. She will also take the title senior vice president.

Ram Aiya, Korro’s CEO and president, said: “[Walker] is an accomplished legal executive whose experience providing strategic guidance within biopharma’s intellectual property, regulatory and competitive landscapes positions her well to support our growth trajectory. She brings extensive experience in both prosecution and litigation of intellectual property in novel therapeutic modalities and the tenacity to grow and build a strong legal organisation.”

Walker spent just over five years at CRISPR, which she joined from Gingko Bioworks, where she was GC. She had earlier spells at Dyax (as associate GC and chief IP counsel), Novo Nordisk (as an IP attorney) and ZymoGenetics (as a senior patent attorney). She started her career in private practice at Mintz Levin.

She said: “Korro is a leader in the RNA editing space and has assembled a top-notch team driven to translate the company’s foundational science into groundbreaking therapeutics for both rare and prevalent diseases.”

Comms company Invariant hires new GC

US strategic communications firm Invariant has hired Gloria Labbad as its new general counsel as it seeks to grow its litigation comms business.

Labbad joins from strategic comms peer FGS Global where she was a partner and corporate counsel. She brings almost two decades of legal experience including crisis management, litigation communications, reputation building and corporate positioning. She also joins as a principal.

Heather Podesta, Invariant’s founder and CEO, said: "[Labbad] is the go-to advisor for companies and executives facing the biggest problems of today. She has a proven ability to help clients navigate crises and legal challenges, providing communications counsel and strategy that protects reputation, maintains investor confidence and preserves employee morale.”

Labbad spent a year at FGS Global, having previously spent six years at Sard Verbinnen & Co as managing director and corporate counsel before it merged with Finsbury Glover Hering in 2021 to create FGS. Prior to that she spent just under two years as a law clerk to district court judge Richard Jones, having previously worked in private practice at Dentons and McGuireWoods.  

She said: “Heather Podesta has carefully expanded the strategic communications team over the past few years to include exceptionally experienced advisors across practice areas, and I look forward to working alongside my new colleagues and serving the firm’s clients.”

Labbad is the latest in series of legal hires for the company following the arrival of former White House lawyer Susan Lagana from Brunswick Group in November and litigation communications expert Bill McQuillen from Burson Cohn & Wolfe in September 2021.

Cordance appoints experienced tech lawyer as GC

US private equity-backed tech firm Cordance has hired Ellen Samuels as its new general counsel to support the company’s acquisition strategy of founder-owned business-to-business (B2B) software-as-a-service (SaaS) scale-ups.

Samuels joins from Community Brands, where she was also GC. She brings with her more than 25 years of experience as a technology lawyer, overseeing and advising on M&A deals and contracting for SaaS products. The company also hired Eric Wood from Aceable as its chief technology officer.

Sharon Love, CEO of Cordance, said: “Eric and Ellen’s extensive experience in senior management roles across software and technology are strong additions to our existing capabilities. Their contributions will help us continue to build a collaborative community where our businesses can learn from one another and create value.”

Samuels spent just over a year as GC at Community Brands, having joined from NCR where she spent more than 26 years across a range of legal roles, most recently as law VP for its banking group and product. She started her legal career in private practice at Cohen Todd Kite & Stanford.

She said: “My goal is to help the leadership team execute on our vision by providing Cordance and its family of B2B SaaS businesses the legal and operational support they need to grow and succeed.”

Send your in-house appointment news to Ben Edwards; [email protected]

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