News Corp. to name legal chief

Gerson Zweifach set for post as general counsel

News Corp. is said to be close to naming veteran Washington, D.C., attorney Gerson Zweifach as its top corporate lawyer, a more crucial post than ever before for the conglom as it continues to face a host of legal challenges stemming from the U.K. phone hacking scandal.

News Corp. declined to comment. But a person close to the company said the appointment of Zweifach, a partner with the firm Williams & Connolly with years of experience in securities, antitrust and First Amendment law, could be announced early in the new year after an extensive internal and external search. He would replace Lawrence Jacobs, who resigned in June.

Since then Janet Nova, who heads News Corp.’s corporate governance department, has been serving as interim general counsel. She is expected to stay with the company.

Nova has shown that the job is not without risk. She was sitting next to Wendi Deng at the famous Parliamentary hearing last summer where a heckler tossed a plate of shaving cream at News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch’s face. Deng, Murdoch’s wife, got most of the accolades. But all who saw it agreed that Nova, who became known as the Lady in Gray, helped block the plate of foam from hitting Murdoch full on and set up Wendi’s shot.

As the hacking crisis unspooled last summer, News Corp. bulked up its legal team, hiring high-powered attorneys Joel Klein and David Boies to head a new committee overseeing the internal investigation.