Women working in the legal realm have been making noise recently. Starting off with Laureen Seeger’s appointment as general counsel at American Express, Kristin Coleman and Vivian Yang followed shortly after as the two were named GCs at Sears and RealD, respectively. Women have also played key roles in litigation such as the Hobby Lobby case and the FedEx indictment. Other stories include the prominence of three women in the GoDaddy IPO and of Karin Torgerson in the sale of TGI Fridays. To find out more, click through the slideshow.
Image courtesy of GoDaddy
GoDaddy prepares to go ahead with IPO
In its earlier days, Internet hosting and Web domain company GoDaddy Inc. raised its profile with ads featuring attractive women. Now, several women attorneys are playing key roles in making sure the company is attractive to stockholders as GoDaddy prepares to go public.
Nima Kelly serves as the GoDaddy’s executive vice president and general counsel. Kelly is responsible for M&A, governance, corporate and patent litigation and intellectual property matters at GoDaddy, as well as customer-facing and third-party transactional agreements.
Allison B. Spinner, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, is on the team representing GoDaddy. Spinner’s practice focuses on corporate and securities transactions in the technology sector. As WIPL reported earlier, Spinner is also representing the underwriters in the GoPro IPO.
Sarah K. Solum is helping to represent the underwriters. Solum is a corporate partner in Davis Polk’s Menlo Park office. She advises on public and private corporate finance transactions, including initial public offerings and convertible and other debt offerings, mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, SEC disclosure and corporate governance.
The three women are essential as GoDaddy prepares its $100 million dollar IPO.
Seeger named general counsel of American Express
When news came in August of 2013 that Louise Parent, executive vice president and general counsel of American Express, would retire after 37 years – including 20 as GC — at the company, many wondered who would fill her shoes. Tim Heine has served as interim GC of the company since the start of 2014 but, after an exhaustive search, American Express has announced its new general counsel: Laureen E. Seeger. Seeger, 52, most recently served as executive vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer at the McKesson Corporation, one of the largest healthcare services companies in North America. At American Express, Seeger will become the new executive vice president and general counsel and will lead the financial company’s legal, compliance and ethics initiatives, later adding federal and state government affairs duties.
“We are excited to have one of the world’s top legal leaders become general counsel of American Express. Not only is Laureen a gifted legal strategist, litigator and an expert in managing compliance and regulatory affairs, throughout her career she has first and foremost been a catalyst for business growth. She will be an outstanding addition as the new leader of a world-class general counsel’s office,” Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, said in a statement. Seeger will report directly to Chenault and serve on the company’s Operating Committee.
Kristin Coleman named general counsel of Sears Holdings
Sears Holdings, the company formed via the merger of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and the Kmart Corporation, has named Kristin M. Coleman as its new senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. In her new position with Sears, she will be lead the company’s legal team and oversee the corporate communications, environmental services, global compliance, government affairs, internal audit and product safety units.
"I am pleased Kristin is joining our leadership team. She is a proven leader with experience managing legal, compliance and corporate governance issues," said Edward S. Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Chairman said in a statement. "Having started her career as a litigator and transitioning into corporate law, she brings a breadth and depth of experience to Sears Holdings in litigation and governance, including mergers and acquisitions and securities, which will serve us well as we continue on our path to transform the company."
Windham helped drive Hobby Lobby victory
As in-house legal departments around the country work to digest the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Lori Windham, one of the lead attorneys on the Hobby Lobby team, may be ready for a well-deserved break after playing a key role in the case. “This is a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business,” said Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and counsel for Hobby Lobby in this case, in a statement.
Windham has been with the Becket Fund, a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths, for seven years. She has extensive litigation experience, representing a variety of religious groups at every level from the district courts to the Supreme Court. Her clients have included Amish builders, a Santeria priest, Evangelical churches and public school districts. Her work has included cases under the Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, RFRA, RLUIPA and state religious freedom laws.
Image courtesy of TGI Fridays
Torgerson serves up TGI Fridays sale
Locke Lord partner Karin Torgerson was part of the team that represented Carlson in the sale of TGI Fridays Restaurants to Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners. According to the firm, the estimated sale value, including debt, was $800 million. TGI Fridays, which operates more than 900 casual dining restaurants in 60 countries, will continue operating under its existing management team.
“This transaction is a win for all parties and we are excited and confident that under Sentinel’s ownership Fridays will continue to experience significant growth and capitalize on new opportunities,” said Carlson president and CEO Trudy Rautio in a statement. “For Carlson, this transaction frees up resources that the company can deploy to focus on and accelerate the growth of its hotel and travel businesses, at a time when significant opportunities exist in these markets.”
Yang promoted to GC at RealD
Vivian Yang has been promoted to executive vice president and general counsel at RealD Inc. Yang, who reports to chairman and CEO Michael V. Lewis, oversees the company’s worldwide legal and human resources departments, including managing compliance. Before joining the global licensor of 3D and other visual technologies earlier this year, Yang served as senior vice president and GC for CityGrid Media. She has also been SVP, business affairs, finance and administration at Time Warner’s Global Media Group, VP & general counsel at eCompanies Wireless and senior counsel at Sony Pictures. Yang started her legal career at Latham & Watkins.
“Vivian has vast experience in the media and technology sectors working with both established and growth companies,” said Lewis in a statement. “Her legal acumen combined with her proven management capabilities will make her an extraordinarily valuable member of the RealD executive team.”
U.S. Attorney Haag announces FedEx indictment
FedEx Corp., FedEx Express, Inc. and FedEx Corporate Services, Inc. have been indicted by a San Francisco federal grand jury with conspiracies to traffic controlled substances and misbranded prescription drugs, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag. FedEx has been summoned to appear in federal court in San Francisco on July 29. At that time, the company intends to plead not guilty, according to Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president marketing and communications.
“The advent of Internet pharmacies allowed the cheap and easy distribution of massive amounts of illegal prescription drugs to every corner of the United States, while allowing perpetrators to conceal their identities through the anonymity the Internet provides,” said Haag in the statement. “This indictment highlights the importance of holding corporations that knowingly enable illegal activity responsible for their role in aiding criminal behavior.”
Haag was confirmed as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California in August 2010. Prior to her appointment, Haag was a partner with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where she specialized in litigation and trial work. Before that, Haag was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California and the Northern District of California. She also served as a litigation associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and a partner at Landels, Ripley & Diamond.