Vet Washington attorney to lead legal team

After much speculation, News Corp. has named veteran Washington attorney Gerson Zweifach its senior exec VP and group general counsel.

Zweifach, a partner with the firm Williams & Connolly with years of experience in securities, antitrust and First Amendment law, replaces Lawrence Jacobs, who resigned in June amidst the company’s unfolding phone hacking scandal.

Since Jacobs’ resignation, corporate governance topper Janet Nova has led the company’s legal team.

In December, Variety reported that News Corp. was mulling a decision to hire Zweifach, but the conglom declined to comment at the time.

Company confirmed the appointment in a release sent out Monday morning.

News Corp. shuttered its profitable tabloid “News of the World” last year amidst rising allegations that employees had committed phone hacking, notably of murdered London teen Milly Dowler amidst a police investigation of her death. Since the scandal broke, News Corp. has beefed up its legal firepower, hiring high-powered attorneys Joel Klein and David Boies to head a new committee overseeing its internal investigation.

Zweifach has had plenty of experience with embattled tabloids. The attorney defended “The National Enquirer” during a number of high-profile lawsuits.

On Wall Street, Zweifach famously represented former NY Stock Exchange topper Richard A. Grasso in a 2004 civil trial against former New York state attorney general Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer’s office had tried to recover more than $130 million in Grasso’s pay, but ultimately lost its case four years later when the NY State Supreme Court, Appellate division threw out the case.

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