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Williams & Connolly Partner Is Talking About Becoming Next News Corp. GC
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Gerson Zweifach, who is a partner at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., is reportedly in line to become the News Corporation’s next general counsel. The media giant’s former general counsel, who is Lawrence ”Lon” Jacobs, stepped down back in June to ”pursue new opportunities,” according to a company press release.

A spokesperson for the New York-based News Corp. refused to comment of Zweifach’s potential hire, and Zweifach himself was not in his office on Friday and unavailable for immediate comment.

  
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One source that is familiar with the matter told The Am Law Daily that while there is no deal being put in place, Zweifach’s hiring could be announced very shortly after the start of the New Year. The source says that New Corp. conducted with an extensive internal and external search for a new general counsel, a process that has been supervised by Joel Klein, who is a former head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division and who also currently serves as a member of the company’s board of directors.

News of Zweifach’s potential hire was the first that was reported by The Wall Street Journal, a newspaper owned by Dow Jones & Company, which became part of the News Corp. media empire in a $5.6 billion deal in 2007 that landed roles for scores of Am Law 200 firms. (Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom, Slate, and Hogan & Hartson, now called Hogan Lovells, advised the News Corp. on their transaction.

If Zweifach should become the next general counsel for News Corp., then he will oversee all legal work for a media empire that is facing a wide array of issues, the most pressing of them is an ongoing investigation into allegations of phone-hacking at the company’s now-shuttered London tabloid The News of the World.

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Zweifach, who is a seasoned litigator with three decades of experience handling everything from First Amendment to antitrust cases, has the requisite professional pedigree for a company that is seeking to bring order to its various legal entanglements.

Zweifach’s previous high-profile clients include representing the former New York Stock Exchange chief executive Richard Grasso, who faced the civil charges brought by then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in a bid to recoup Grasso’s $187.5 million severance package.



Zweifach successfully argued before a New York appellate court that Grasso should be allowed to keep his own money, with the unjust enrichment claims filed by Spitzer eventually dismissed. Zweifach was also a part of the defense team that beat the over billing suit against Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

At the very same time, Zweifach faces a tough task in navigating a thicket of the internal politics at News Corps., whose in-house legal department has reportedly been in a state of disarray since Jacobs departed back in June just before the phone-hacking furor broke that is involving The News of the World.



 

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