When Uber Technologies Inc. decided to shore up its legal team, the ride-hailing company chose a lawyer who knew it well after investigating sexual harassment in its ranks, and also is equipped to fight the company’s outside legal battles.
Tammy Albarran, a partner from Covington & Burling, was named earlier this week as Uber’s new deputy legal counsel, not long after she spent months investigating employee misbehavior, and co-authoring a report whose recommendations put curbs on Uber’s famously freewheeling culture.
She worked with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on a three-and-a-half month deep dive into workplace sexual harassment. They were colleagues at Covington & Burling, where Albarran worked in the San Francisco office and built expertise in fraud and corruption law, particularly involving foreign governments.
The inquiry came as Uber, facing a number of pressing legal issues, began to shake up in-house counsel personnel, bringing aboard Tony West, formerly a leading PepsiCo Inc. executive, as chief legal officer last November. He hired Albarran.
“As co-author of the Covington report, Tammy literally wrote the book on what doing the right thing means for Uber,” Uber said in a statement.
In an interview on Tuesday with the publication Corporate Counsel, West, who was not available for comment, said his working relationship with Albarran spans 20 years.
“I have always admired her intelligence, integrity and grit – all qualities that will make her an excellent co-author of Uber’s second act.”
The second act West refers centers on defending against several major legal challenges that appear to be coming Uber’s way, including involvement in overseas bribery, illicit software and questionable pricing schemes, according to an October report by Bloomberg News.
Albarran’s experience at Covington included leading bribery investigations for clients with operations in Latin America, and assisting in anti-corruption due diligence for proposed company transactions. She also advised clients setting up anti-corruption compliance programs.
According to her LinkedIn entry, the Harvard Law graduate, who was an associate at law firm Morrison & Foerster, has experience in securities laws, and has represented public companies, financial services firms, securities brokerage firms and their officers and directors.
Covington partner Timothy Hester noted in a statement that Uber is “one of the firm’s leading clients,” and that Albarran’s “strengths will make fundamental contributions to Uber as it continues to evolve and mature.”
Albarran replaced Angela Padilla, the deputy legal counsel who was involved in a legal kerfuffle during the Alphabet Inc. Waymo trial where she was criticized by the judge for not producing a letter from a former Uber employee as evidence.
The letter accused Uber of keeping certain information off the company’s servers and creating an unit within the company to steal trade secrets. In testimony, Padilla said she thought Waymo’s legal team examining Uber’s servers would find the letter anyway.
She left her job but will remain an adviser to the company, according to Uber.
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