The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is the front line of defense for many major movie companies in the protection of copyright law, which might make the general counsel of the MPAA the Movie Copyright General. That Movie Copyright General position now belongs to Steven Fabrizio, who takes over the top job from Henry Hoberman. Fabrizio has worked with the MPAA as top outside counsel in the past and played a key role in the MPAA’s victory over movie-hosting site Hotfile.com. Fabrizio was previously a senior partner in the Washington D.C. office of Jenner & Block.
The network television wars aren’t all about programming and advertising; sometimes, the battle spills into the legal realm. Lawrence Tu has become CBS Corp.’s new general counsel, taking over the top spot from the retiring Louis Briskman. Tu comes to CBS after serving for a decade as general counsel of Dell Inc., but before Dell, Tu served in the same role with NBC. As NBC general counsel, Tu helped oversee the acquisitions of Telemundo, Bravo and Universal Studios. “Larry possesses a deep understanding of how the law intersects with intellectual property, copyright and content distribution, as well as other issues facing our industry,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement.
GAMCO Investors, led by Mario J. Gabelli, is in the business of making sound, calculated financial decisions and risks. Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that GAMCO hired a financial industry veteran as its new general counsel. Kevin Handwerker comes to GAMCO from asset management firm Neuberger Berman, where he served as managing director and general counsel for 12 years. Handwerker has also held senior management positions with National Financial Partners Corp. and J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc. in the past.
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Real estate settlement service provider North America Title Group has settled the problem of its top legal expert, and for the company decided to go with a veteran in the real estate and title insurance realms. Jefferson “Jeff” Howeth previously served as vice president, deputy general counsel of PGP Title Inc. and Premier Land Title Insurance Co., subsidiaries of PulteGroup Inc., which provided title insurance and other services to new home owners. President Tom Fischer said in a statement, “The combination of Jeff’s high ethical standards, extensive experience in national title and underwriting matters, and deep experience in the business of title insurance through numerous business cycles will prove to be an invaluable asset to our company as we continue to expand our businesses over the coming years.”
Private equity firm Warburg Pincus holds an active, highly-diversified portfolio of over 125 companies, so the firm needed somebody equally flexible to head its legal department in case of trouble. The firm believes it has found its man in Robert B. Knauss, named general counsel and managing director on Nov. 7. Knauss comes to Warburg Pincus from Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles, where he focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and securities and private equity. “Rob is a talented lawyer who brings to the firm a tremendous amount of relevant experience,” Warburg Pincus co-CEO Joseph P. Landy said in a statement. “We will benefit greatly from Rob’s expertise, counsel and leadership.”
While America continues to debate the appointment of National Labor Relations Board GC Richard Griffin Jr., one of the United Kingdom’s top departments now has a new legal head as well. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which handles all the UK’s customs and tax enforcement, has named Gill Aitken as its new GC, starting January 2014. Aitken previously served as the Department of Work & Pensions’ (DWP) director general of legal services, and her entire 38-year legal career has been in public service. According to The Lawyer, the HMRC has seen litigation spike as the government has attempted to crack down on tax fraud.
Paris-based Total S.A. is one of the six “supermajor” oil companies in the world and one of the largest in Europe. That means, even though the company’s U.S. operations are limited to subsidiaries, the company’s appointment of a new general counsel should still catch glances from across the world. That new general counsel is oilfield services specialist Maarten Scholten, who will assume his position at the beginning of the new year. In 2006, Scholten founded the oil field development company Delta Hydrocarbons and served as co-executive director until 2009. He also spent 20 years at the energy company Schlumberger, serving in roles including director of legal services and head of finance.
Other In-House Moves
As antimicrobial technology company HaloSource knows, clean drinking water is essential to maintaining one’s health. But HaloSource also knows the secret to maintaining company health: a strong C-Suite. The company hopes promoting Lisa Wakida will allow the company to maintain that strong bill of health. Wakida joined HaloSource in 2011 and serves as company general counsel, but on Nov. 15, the company announced that she will also join the Leadership team as secretary for the company. “We are so fortunate to have such a talented and hard-working member of our Leadership Team," said HaloSource CEO Martin Coles. "The value of her contributions far exceeds the scope of her role. Lisa puts 100 percent into everything she does and this recognition is well-deserved.”