Zoom Video Communications chief legal officer Aparna Bawa spoke to Law.com about how the use of her video conferencing company’s product has grown exponentially at the height of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Bawa said “the future of work has changed forever” and not only is Zoom being used for work purposes, but it’s also uniting families and friends who are unable to travel under the coronavirus-related advisories around the world.
“If people recognize the power of that. That you can connect with your family in Germany, in India, in China, in the U.S. You can connect with folks all over the world at your fingertips. That’s really powerful,” she said in our Legal Speak podcast. “I would say I am surprised. I’m not surprised. Some of the use cases the company never imagined, and we are waking up to the reality that that’s how people use us, which is awesome.”
Bawa started her legal career at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and eventually became an investment banker. But she felt a calling to be a part of a legal department.
“When we finished a deal or an IPO, we’d spend so much time with this client, and I would fall in love with the people at the company and then I would have to turn around and leave them and go somewhere else. It felt like withdrawal. It was pain. It was like breaking up, and it was awful,” she said. “I started to realize that’s not me. I don’t want that kind of unhappiness and I have to work in one place where I’m invested and I’m all in.”
As Bawa manages Zoom’s legal department, the overwhelming surge in popularity has also brought on lawsuits such as the two privacy suits filed in California targeting Zoom’s data protection procedures.
How has your legal department’s workload increased over your company’s products being deemed essential during the pandemic? Please let me know at email@example.com.
“We are facing an unprecedented national challenge—a challenge that has significant implications for financial reporting, our markets, and our economy more generally. As we face these challenging times, investors and other stakeholders need high-quality financial information more than ever.”
Sagar Teotia, chief accountant for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reminding companies and their general counsel that reporting this year’s revenues and losses need to be accurate despite the COVID-19 crisis.
Insert Foot in Mouth
Amazon.com general counsel David Zapolsky found himself in hot water over comments he made about a fired employee who had planned to organize a strike.
“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger [public relations] position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” Zapolsky reportedly said in a business meeting.
Though he responded to his comments, they may still resurface in the form of litigation as labor and employment lawyers told Corporate Counsel that Zapolsky and Amazon could face wrongful termination and racial discrimination claims.
The fired employee, Chris Smalls, is black. Smalls wanted to strike, alleging Amazon wasn’t adequately protecting its warehouse employees against COVID-19. Amazon fired him because he didn’t follow social distancing orders after an employee at his Staten Island warehouse was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
To Secure Data Amid Crisis
Corporate Counsel interviewed David Huberman, the general counsel of Minneapolis-based enterprise security company Code42, which produces software that helps organizations detect, investigate and respond to insider data security threats.
With many employees now working remotely due to the pandemic, data security threats are rising across the board, and the company, like many, is adjusting to the same precautions.
“We are dealing with the specifics of COVID-19, interpreting new legislation around sick leave and [Family and Medical Leave Act] benefits, communicating that information to the workforce, and understanding the impact of economic stimulus actions taken by Congress,” Huberman said. “It’s all pretty unique to this time.”
Best Legal Departments
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have moved the deadline for submissions to June 15 to enable legal departments and their employees to focus on much more pressing matters.
We are looking for general counsel and in-house legal department applicants in the following categories:
U.S. Legal Department of the Year
Compliance Department of the Year
Startup Solo GC of the Year
Best Use of Technology
General Counsel of the Year
Best Deputy or Associate GC
Champion of Diversity Award
Best Legal Ops Team
Outstanding Community Service Award
If your general counsel and legal department qualify for a Best Legal Departments award, then please apply here.
If you’re looking for guidance, take a look at our latest stories around how in-house counsel are being impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 and CFIUS: Coronavirus Pandemic Slows National Security Reviews
Workers’ Leave, Sick Pay Among Top Employer Concerns in Age of COVID-19
In COVID-19 Times, Corporate Political Spending Is Finding More Sunshine
On the Move
Marco Santori has joined San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken as chief legal officer. He most recently served as president and top lawyer for crypto firm Blockchain.com.
Hanover Insurance Group named Dennis Kerrigan as general counsel. He had previously been serving as deputy general counsel, telling Corporate Counsel he had time to get used to the legal functions and the move to remote work amid the coronavirus crisis.
The co-deputy general counsels at Sempra Energy are now leading the San Diego-based utility’s legal department following chief legal officer and president George Bilicic’s abrupt resignation. Bilicic, who also served as chief compliance officer, will receive a severance cash payment of $3.2 million, according to an SEC filing.