Facebook Hires New VP and General Counsel Ted Ullyot from Kirkland & Ellis

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Facebook is beefing up its corporate legal team with the addition of Ted Ullyot, most recently of Kirkland & Ellis where he was recruited by former US special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, Jessica Guynn at the LA Times reports.

Ullyot has very strong ties to the Republican Party, having previously worked as a White House lawyer “who helped coordinate the response to the investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity and serving as chief of staff to former U.S. Atty. General Alberto Gonzales.”  Earlier in his career, Ullyoy was a clerk for US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Ullyot also has strong private sector experience, previously serving as VP and General Counsel of AOL Time Warner Europe, where he worked for Paul Cappuccio, executive vice president and general counsel of AOL Time Warner.

Ullyot will help Facebook navigate new legal waters, especially as emerging fields like online privacy become bigger political issues. Recently, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly testified before a US Senate committee hearing about Facebook’s approach to user privacy.

“We view Ted’s joining us as just another reaffirmation of the fact that we are working at the cutting edge of lots of incredible innovation,” said Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications and public policy (and himself a lawyer). “He has an extraordinary combination of private legal practice and public sector experience. So many of the legal issues we face touch on both of those arenas. He is equally comfortable helping us expand internationally as he is in helping us navigate complicated legal issues we may face in Washington. Ted’s arrival really demonstrates we’re a little more grown-up.”

So why is he heading to Facebook?

“It was extremely attractive to me from the outset,” Ullyot said. “It’s an innovative company and a growing company in size and presence and profile. From a lawyer’s perspective, the legal issues are novel and interesting.” Among the draws: “Operating in a fast-moving environment where the legal framework is less-developed… [and] I doubt you will see me in a tie very often.”

The Harvard alum and San Francisco native joins a Facebook front office with increasingly senior government experience. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s CEO, was formerly the chief of staff at the Treasury Department under President Clinton.