Starbucks hires veteran GC as new legal head after year-long search

Former Medtronic GC Brad Lerman comes out of retirement to take up role

Starbucks finds permanent replacement for former GC Rachel Gonzalez Shutterstock

Global coffee chain Starbucks Coffee Company has appointed Brad Lerman as general counsel, concluding a year-long search for a new legal head.

Lerman joins as GC and executive vice president, bringing with him more than three decades of legal and regulatory experience. He comes out of retirement to take the job, having stepped down from global healthcare tech provider Medtronic last year. There he led the company’s global legal function and handled compliance matters across its US, South America, Europe and Asia businesses. His appointment comes just weeks after new CEO Laxman Narasimhan officially started his role at the helm of the company.

Starbucks has been seeking a new legal head after former GC Rachel Gonzalez was ousted last year at the same time as CEO Howard Schultz returned for a third spell leading the coffee giant amid a growing unionisation drive at some of its US stores. Long-time Starbucks legal counsel Zabrina Jenkins has been serving as acting GC during the search for Gonzalez’s replacement.

Narasimhan said: “[Lerman] brings a tenure of experience leading companies through some of their most challenging issues across international markets and working closely with regulators around the world. His expertise in both the public and private sectors will strengthen our decision making, protect and advance the business and brand of Starbucks in the markets in which we operate and further develop our legal and compliance talent.”

Lerman spent nine years at Medtronic, having joined from Fannie Mae, where he was GC and corporate secretary. He also had a spell at Pfizer as chief litigation counsel, having previously been a partner at Winston & Strawn and Kirkland & Ellis. In his early career he spent eight years as an assistant US attorney at the US Department of Justice.

Lerman said: “To serve the partners of Starbucks, one of the world’s most admired brands, is a true honour. The strength of Starbucks leadership team and board of directors, coupled with the talented Starbucks law and corporate affairs team, is what excites me most as we look to advance a bold mission and vision for the future of Starbucks.”

Gonzalez has yet to resurface elsewhere, though she continues to serve as a director at video games giant Electronic Arts, according to her LinkedIn profile – a role she took on while at Starbucks.

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