Home » Disney Compliance Chief Job Said to Vanish After Schwarz’s Exit

Disney Compliance Chief Job Said to Vanish After Schwarz’s Exit

Walt Disney Co. won’t replace chief compliance officer Alicia Schwarz after the world’s largest entertainment company let her go as part of an effort to gain efficiency and boost its financial performance.

Disney general counsel Horacio Gutierrez will take over Schwarz’s duties, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Schwarz and another top legal executive, John Turitzin, chief counsel for Disney’s Marvel Entertainment unit, were among 7,000 job cuts announced last month and implemented starting this week. Turitzin also won’t be replaced because Disney is phasing out the entertainment unit that was headed by Ike Perlmutter.

Disney named Schwarz, a prominent diversity and inclusion advocate, its global deputy chief compliance counsel in 2020 before being tapping her the following year to succeed former compliance chief Jacob “Jack” Yellin upon his retirement. The company hired Schwarz from Hughes Hubbard & Reed a decade ago.

Disney recruited Gutierrez, who will take over her duties, last year from Spotify Technology SA to replace the company’s longtime legal chief Alan Braverman.

Turitzin has been the top lawyer for Marvel Entertainment and its predecessors since 2004. Before that he served as outside counsel to the New York-based comic book company as a partner at Paul Hastings. Turitzin and Paul Hastings handled Marvel’s $4 billion sale to Disney in 2009.

The executive turnover comes as Disney struck a blow this week against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) over his plan to take control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a municipal authority that has oversight for the land that’s home to the company’s Florida theme parks.

Florida’s government has retained lawyers from Washington’s Cooper & Kirk—reportedly at a rate of $795 an hour—for a potential legal battle with Disney. The state is also being advised by Florida-based law firms Fishback Dominick, Lawson Huck Gonzalez, and Nardella & Nardella, according to CNN.

As the public showdown with DeSantis continues, it remains unclear what other changes could be in the offing for Disney’s corporate law department, which is known for its litigiousness. The Burbank, Calif.-based company employs hundreds of lawyers spread across its various business units.

Disney-owned sports network ESPN appointed a new chief counsel a year ago in Eleanor “Nell” DeVane, who replaced her retiring predecessor Diane Morse.

Linda Bagley, another longtime deputy general counsel who had been considered a potential internal favorite to succeed Braverman in Disney’s top legal executive role, also left the company last year.