Southwest Airlines upgrades legal VP to GC as veteran legal chief steps down

Jeff Novota will replace Mark Shaw, who is moving to an advisor role after almost 24 years as CLO

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Shutterstock

US budget carrier Southwest Airlines has promoted Jeff Novota to general counsel after chief legal officer Mark Shaw said he plans to move to an executive advisor role.

Novota is currently vice president for legal – corporate and transactions, and will take up his new role from the start of next month. As head of the legal function, he will oversee all legal matters including corporate governance, securities, compliance, commercial transactions, employment and litigation. Novota will also be expected to provide legal advice and strategic guidance to the company’s senior management committee and board of directors.

Texas-based Southwest Airlines is one of the US’s largest low-cost airline carriers. It has a fleet of more than 800 aircraft and operates out of 121 airports.

Shaw will also relinquish his chief regulatory officer role, which will be assumed by current chief corporate affairs officer Jason Van Eaton.

Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines president and CEO, said: “As Jason and Jeff step into their new roles, the proven expertise and extensive experience they each possess, along with Mark’s continued guidance, will result in a seamless and successful transition.”

Novota has been with Southwest Airlines for almost 13 years across a number of roles. He has held his current position for the past year and a half, having previously been associate GC for corporate and transactions. He originally joined as a corporate attorney from Vedder Price, where he spent three years in the firm’s Chicago office. Novota also holds a commercial multi-engine pilot certificate.

Shaw, meantime, steps down from the CLO role after nearly 24 years with the company. He previously worked as an attorney at GE Capital Aviation Services after eight years at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He started his legal career in-house at personal care and beauty company Mary Kay.

Jordan added: “We appreciate Mark’s many years of dedicated service at Southwest, and we’re delighted he’ll continue to serve as an executive advisor. Mark’s trusted counsel and leadership helped us navigate many triumphs and challenges throughout his career.”

In other airline-related in-house moves, American Airlines’ deputy GC Grant McGee left the company in February to rejoin tissue paper giant Kimberly-Clark as its GC. And in June last year, former Lucasfilm and SpaceX GC David Anderman joined US electric aviation startup Surf Air Mobility

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