Paul Weiss adds former General Electric legal chief

Michael Holston joins having worked with Paul Weiss on breakup of GE into separate companies

Michael Holston Image courtesy of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison

Michael Holston, the former general counsel of General Electric, will join Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison as a partner. 

Holston had been General Electric’s (GE’s) top lawyer since 2018 and oversaw its breakup into three separate energy, healthcare and aerospace companies, a process that was completed early last month.

Earlier he was general counsel at Merck and Hewlett-Packard. He also worked as a federal prosecutor and as a partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath. 

“Mike is among the most talented lawyers I have worked with, and our clients will greatly benefit from his advice and counsel,” said Scott Barshay, chair of Paul Weiss’s corporate department.

Barshay took the lead representing GE on its spinoff along with deputy corporate chair Steven Williams and corporate partner Andrew Krause. In the preceding years the trio had advised GE on a number of deals as the company, once the most valuable US corporation, had worked to reconfigure its businesses, including the $21.4bn sale of its biopharma business to Danaher and the $30bn combination of its jet leasing unit with AerCap Holdings.

“I have always had the utmost respect for Paul Weiss as both a longtime client and as a former private practice lawyer who has worked with the firm on a number of high-stakes situations,” Holston said. “I am excited to embark on a new chapter in my career at the firm.” 

Holston will begin his new role in October and focus on matters including large transactions, crisis litigation, government investigations and corporate governance. Paul Weiss did not specifiy where he will be based as “his work will be firmwide”. 

The firm has been on a hiring spree on both sides of the Atlantic since last summer, including recruiting a slew of partners from Kirkland & Ellis in London and Los Angeles, where it opened a new office. 

Meantime in New York, where the firm lost senior private equity M&A lawyers recently to rivals Sidley Austin and White & Case, it added M&A partner Chelsea Darnell earlier this month, again from Kirkland. Also this month it recruited M&A partner Maria-Leticia Ossa Daza from Willkie Farr & Gallagher to lead a newly-formed Latin America practice. 

GE Vernova, the energy equipment manufacturing and services company formed out of GE’s energy businesses, hired former Starbucks general counsel Rachel Gonzalez as its top lawyer in April last year. Her appointment followed GE HealthCare recruiting Frank Jimenez from Raytheon Technologies for the general counsel role in 2022. 

Meantime GE’s legacy parent company, doing business as aviation-focused GE Aerospace, hired former Boeing lawyer John Phillips III as general counsel last October. During his 13 years at Boeing Phillips played a key role in the company’s 737 MAX litigation and investigations, leaving the company in early 2022 to join the Biden administration as a White House deputy counsel and legal adviser to the National Security Council.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]