Monday's announcement that Northrop Grumman will move its headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington area doesn't just mean that the region could see as many as 150 new jobs. It means that a major client, or potential client, is coming to town.
Northrop Grumman spokesman Dan McClain said the company will relocate at least part of its general counsel’s office as part of the move. The defense contractor employs 100 lawyers worldwide, and currently has about 20 in its L.A. office, most if not all of whom will move to Washington. “We don’t know how the office will be divided up yet,” McClain said.
The general counsel’s office is headed by Stephen Yslas, who assumed the role of corporate vice president and general counsel in January 2009. Yslas has worked at Northrop Grumman since 1975 and has served in a variety of roles in the company’s legal department.
Northrop Grumman has long ties to several firms with offices in Washington, most notably Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. In 2007, John Mullan stepped down as the company’s corporate vice president and secretary to join Sheppard Mullin’s corporate practice in L.A. Yslas’ deputy general counsel, Joseph Coyne Jr., previously served on Sheppard Mullins’ executive committee. According to a press release sent out by the company when he was named deputy GC in January 2009, Coyne had represented Northrop Grumman on “a number of important legal matters” since 1981.
Sheppard Mullins did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The National Law Journal reported in September that the company is also represented by several other firms with Washington-area offices, including Hunton & Williams, Jackson Lewis, Littler Mendelson, Alston & Bird and Andrews Kurth.
Northrop Grumman is expected to open its new corporate office by 2011, but it hasn’t yet chosen a location. The company is currently in talks with government officials in Maryland, Virginia and Washington and is expected to base its decision on the amount of financial incentives each jurisdiction is prepared to offer.