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January 9, 2012 7:25 PM

In-House And Out: News Corp., Morgan Stanley Get New GCs, NFL's Jags Dump Top Lawyer

Posted by Brian Baxter

On the same day the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars canned the franchise's longtime general counsel, Morgan Stanley and News Corporation announced that they had appointed new top in-house attorneys with Am Law 100 ties.

On the hiring front, Morgan Stanley confirmed that Eric Grossman is being promoted to succeed Francis Barron as the company's next chief legal officer, according to sibling publication Corporate Counsel.

The 60-year-old Barron, whose retirement was announced in an internal Morgan Stanley memo on Monday, joined the financial services giant in July 2010 after 32 years at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. His arrival followed a February 2010 shake-up of Morgan Stanley's in-house legal department that resulted in the resignation of former CLO Gary Lynch.

It was Lynch—hired by Bank of America last year as its new global chief of legal, compliance, and regulatory relations—who brought Grossman to Morgan Stanley from Davis Polk & Wardwell in 2006. At Davis Polk, Grossman was a partner in the firm's financial institutions practice.

Grossman's current responsibilities at Morgan Stanley include serving as the company's general counsel of the Americas, head of litigation, and general counsel of retail brokerage unit Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Corporate Counsel reports that Grossman will officially take over the top in-house job from Barron in the middle of 2012.

Morgan Stanley's government relations group, headed by Michael Stein, began reporting to Barron last year. The group will now report to Morgan Stanley COO and Yale Law School graduate Jim Rosenthal, according to the company's internal memo announcing the changes. (Fellow Yale Law School graduate Gregory Fleming serves as the head of Morgan Stanley's wealth management unit.)

Profits per partner at Cravath and Davis Polk in 2010 were $3.2 million and $2.2 million, respectively, according to the most recent Am Law 100 financial data. Barron's predecessor, Lynch, took in nearly $3.5 million in 2009, according to Corporate Counsel's annual compensation survey of in-house legal chiefs.

Another soon-to-be-former Am Law 100 honcho headed for the in-house legal ranks is Williams & Connolly partner Gerson Zweifach. News Corporation officially named Zweifach as its new general counsel on Monday, according to sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times. Zweifach succeeds predecessor Lawrence "Lon" Jacobs, who resigned in June.

The Am Law Daily examined Zweifach and Williams & Connolly's ties to News Corp. in late December, when reports first surfaced that he was in line to take the reins of the New York–based media giant's legal department.

Joel Klein, a former head of the Justice Department's antitrust division who heads News Corp.'s education unit, is married to former Williams & Connolly partner Nicole Seligman, who currently serves as Sony's general counsel. Klein has been overseeing News Corp.'s response to the phone-hacking scandal that has enveloped the company since last summer.

Profits per partner at Williams & Connolly in 2010 were a little more than $1.2 million, according to Am Law 100 data. A copy of Klein's employment agreement with News Corp. filed with the SEC last May reveals that he will make a base salary of not less than $2 million with an annual bonus not less than $1.5 million in 2011.

Amid the high-profile in-house hiring spree came news of a prominent firing: Foley & Lardner of counsel Paul Vance is out after a lengthy stint as general counsel and senior vice president of football operations for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Florida Times-Union reports that Jaguars assistant general counsel Sashi Brown, a former corporate associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C., will replace Vance. Brown, the paper reports, has been promoted to senior vice president and general counsel of the team. Vance will remain with the Jaguars in a consulting role through the end of the year.

Vance's resignation comes close on the heels of former Jaguars owner owner Wayne Weaver selling the team to Illinois auto parts magnate Shahid Khan for $760 million. The Am Law Daily reported in November that Vance and Foley advised Weaver on his sale of the franchise, which joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1995.

According to ESPN.com, another possible reason behind Vance's termination is a contract dispute involving seven former assistant coaches who claim they are owed a combined total of up to $4 million in salary after being firing last month.

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