Tesla hires GC from Dish as it promises 'world class' legal team
Brandon Ehrhart’s appointment comes amid founder Elon Musk’s mission to build a ‘hardcore litigation department’
Tesla has appointed a seasoned lawyer from the telecoms sector as its general counsel in the latest shake-up of its legal department as it promises to build a ‘world class team’.
Brandon Ehrhart has assumed Tesla’s top legal role after a 20-year tenure at Dish where he served as general counsel of Dish Wireless and executive vice president and corporate secretary of Dish Network. Tesla confirmed his appointment on Friday (10 February) in a Tweet, making him the latest of a string of executives to head up Tesla’s legal function in recent years.
The telecoms veteran spent just over 20 years at Dish working in a variety of legal roles including most recently helping Dish Wireless become a nationwide US carrier following its acquisition in 2020 of Boost Mobile. That process, according to his LinkedIn profile, requires ‘reimagining connectivity through new platforms, new business models and new ways of thinking’.
It has also involved skirmishes with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service. Last month, PC magazine reported that Dish had filed a lawsuit attempting to halt the launch of Starlink's second-generation satellite network.
His appointment promises to end an unsettled period for the leadership of the legal team at Tesla, which, according to a Tweet by Elon Musk last May, is building a ‘hardcore litigation department’ to ‘directly initiate and execute lawsuits’ reporting directly to him.
In March last year, it emerged that Walmart’s former chief ethics and compliance officer, David Searle, had stepped up to the role of interim GC from his position as deputy GC and head of compliance. That made him the third leader in two years.
However, he left the company in December, according to his LinkedIn profile, with senior director and longstanding Tesla lawyer Dinna Eskin believed to have filled in as head of legal until Ehrhart’s arrival. In its Tweet confirming Ehrhart’s appointment, Tesla said Eskin would ‘continue in a leadership role in Tesla Legal, as we build a world class team’.
Previous legal heads include William Berry, a veteran of Google’s in-house team who according to his LinkedIn profile led Tesla’s legal team for several months in 2021 before departing in December of that year.
Berry had himself replaced acting general counsel and corporate secretary Alan Prescott, who departed Tesla in April 2021 after just shy of 18 months in the role to be CLO at Luminar, which builds laser sensor technology for autonomous vehicles. Previous GCs include Todd Maron, who was once Musk’s divorce lawyer and served more than four years in the role before his departure at the end of 2018.