Who Wants Uber's General Counsel Role?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 29, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Looking at Uber's legal organization is a little like looking at an incomplete schematic for a car.

If you are not an electrician or really good at sorting out a tangle, you may have trouble figuring out how the company's legal team even works. There are definitely some missing connections.

Last week, the San Francisco-based company moved its general counsel to chief legal officer. Days later, the company's top attorney for basically the rest of the world quit.

In the meantime, there's a big hole at the general counsel position. Does anybody know where this car is going?

Uber announced that Salle Yoo, who has been its general counsel for five years, has been promoted to chief legal officer. The announcement came just as it was revealed in a civil lawsuit that she threatened to fire an engineer if he asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege in the case.

In her new role, Yoo will continue to lead the company's regulatory, legal, and safety and insurance teams. She will work more closely with the human resources, helping to "drive critical company initiatives like equal pay, increasing diversity in our business, and building a strong cultural foundation for the future of Uber," CEO Travis Kalanick said in an email.

Yoo will leave behind, however, day-to-day direction and operation of legal and regulatory teams. It's a job that has become increasingly complex since she started there.

She was the only person in the legal department in 2012. Now, there are more than 225 people working in 30 locations around the world. During the same time, according to Bloomberg, federal court appearances for the company have increased from about 7 to more than 75 a year.

General Counsel

And so the search is on for somebody to take over as general counsel at Uber, which is in the midst of many legal controversies. Class-actions, regulatory investigations and most visibly -- a lawsuit filed by Google's self-driving car business.

Waymo alleges that a former engineer took off with its self-driving technology. The complaint alleges that Anthony Levandovski stole the tech and sold it to Uber for $680 million. The judge is so convinced something wrong happened, he has referred it to prosecutors for review.

Yoo stepped into it in a big way when she sent Levandovski a letter threatening to fire him unless he cooperated with discovery. So far, he has asserted his privilege not to incriminate himself.

It's a mess that even Jim Callahan, the company's top lawyer in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, doesn't want. He resigned this week, joining a string of executives who have recently taken off, including its president and three vice presidents.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard