News Corp. has tapped a Washington partner at Williams & Connolly to serve as the media giant’s group general counsel.
Gerson Zweifach, who has experience in patent, litigation, first amendment and media law, will serve as the senior executive vice president of News Corp.
Zweifach takes over for Janet Nova, the interim general counsel for the past six months, and will report directly to News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. He inherits a high-profile in-house job, especially as the company continues to deal with the phone-hacking scandal that included allegations against journalists at the now-closed London-based tabloid News of the World.
Zweifach said in an interview that it was tough to leave the firm he’s called home for 30 years. “I’m part of the furniture here. It’s family,” he said of the firm.
But he said he's looking forward to the “unique opportunity to play an important role in this global media company at a critical time in their history.”
It is clear that the biggest challenge he'll be facing, at least in the immediate sense, is the investigation into the phone-hacking scandal. Zweifach noted that it will important to understand where and how the activities in question unfolded—and then to put policies and procedures in place to “ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Zweifach will still be working closely with some of his former Williams & Connolly partners who started representing News Corp. in June. They'll include renowned litigator Brendan Sullivan Jr. News of Sullivan's hiring broke in July.
Soon after, he said got a call from News Corp. president Chase Carey inviting him to discuss the general counsel position over a cup of coffee. Later that fall, their discussions became more serious. Zweifach said he also spent significant time meeting with Rupert Murdoch and his son, News Corp. executive James Murdoch, before accepting the position.