New York Times Legal Team Adds Big Law Partner, Crypto Lawyer

Irina Baranova

New York Times Co., fresh from hiring a new executive editor, has tapped two new lawyers to fill openings in its law department.

Tanya Forsheit, who joined Loeb & Loeb’s Los Angeles office in 2021, last month became the Times’ senior counsel for data privacy, information security and consumer compliance.

Michael Brown, who had spent the past seven months as a deputy general counsel and corporate secretary for Cipher Mining Inc., joined the Times as vice president, assistant general counsel and assistant secretary, the company said last week.

The additions follow the Times announcement in mid-April that Joseph Kahn, its namesake newspaper’s managing editor since 2016, is taking over for Dean Baquet as executive editor. The Times added a record number of subscribers during the first quarter following its January acquisition of Wordle, Bloomberg News reported.

The Times agreed that same month to pay $550 million to buy The Athletic, a sports news website with more than 1 million subscribers. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius represented the Times on that transaction, the largest by the New York-based company since its $1.1 billion buy of the Boston Globe in 1993.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha confirmed that both lawyers are filling vacancies for existing roles within the company’s internal legal team, which isn’t growing despite the media company expanding into new business lines.

Legal Additions

Forsheit, a former co-chair of Loeb & Loeb’s privacy, security, and data innovations practice, takes over a position at the Times previously held by former senior counsel Francoise Mady, who left after nearly five years at the company to take a similar role in March at Twitter Inc.

Loeb & Loeb partner Jessica Lee in New York is now sole chair of the law firm’s privacy, security, and data innovations practice. Forsheit, a former head of the privacy group at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, left that firm last year for Loeb & Loeb.

The Times hired Brown to replace recently departed assistant general counsel for corporate and securities Eunice Yang. She joined the company in late 2020 after serving as a senior counsel for corporate governance at soft drink maker PepsiCo Inc.

Brown will oversee securities law compliance, corporate governance and executive compensation, and transactional matters, for the company, the announcement by Times general counsel Diane Brayton said.

“Mike brings to the role considerable substantive and leadership experience in these areas,” Brayton said in the statement. Brayton had taken over in 2017 as legal chief for the Times, succeeding the company’s retired general counsel, Kenneth Richieri.

The Times disclosed in a proxy statement filed in March that Brayton received a pay package valued at nearly $2.1 million last year, up from the roughly $1.7 million in total compensation she earned during 2020 and $1.6 million in 2019.

In mid-February, Ballard Spahr represented the Times in scuttling a defamation lawsuit filed against the newspaper publisher by Sarah Palin, a former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate who saw a jury rule against her a day after a judge dismissed her case. Palin appealed that decision in March.

Fenwick & West advised the Times on the Wordle deal, which was for an undisclosed sum that the company acknowledged was in “the low-seven figures.” The acquisition helped the Times to diversify its revenue streams by growing its portfolio of games.

Bitcoin Exit

Brown didn’t respond to a request for comment about his decision to leave Cipher, a bitcoin mining operation he joined in late 2021.

Cipher didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether Brown will be replaced, nor did William Iwaschuk, a former Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner hired last year to be the company’s chief legal officer.

Cipher disclosed in an April proxy filing that Iwaschuk received nearly $7.8 million in total compensation last year, only $150,000 of which was in cash. Cipher went public last year after merging with a special purpose acquisition company.

The Biden administration is preparing to make policy recommendations designed to decrease the cryptocurrency mining industry’s energy consumption and emissions footprint, Bloomberg Law reported last week.

Brown previously spent more than three years at Clearway Energy Inc., a renewable energy provider where he was most recently a deputy general counsel and assistant corporate secretary.

Brown and Forsheit join the Times nearly a year after the company brought on former Boies Schiller Flexner partner Karen Chesley as a litigation counsel.

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