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Tesla (TSLA) acting general council leaves for Lidar startup

Tesla’s acting general council, Alan Prescott, has left for Lidar startup Luminar. The automaker has gone through four general councils in about three years.

Tesla is often described as having high turnover, which has been especially true for its top lawyers.

Elon Musk surprised many when he hired his personal divorce lawyer, Todd Maron, to be Tesla’s general counsel (he was first deputy counsel) in 2013.

It’s not often you see an expert divorce lawyer become a top corporate lawyer at a major company, but it was actually a very successful move.

Maron took the helm for almost five years, became Tesla’s longest reigning counsel, and took on a role that was beyond the responsibilities of most general counsels.

But he left in early 2019, and Tesla has had issues replacing him.

In January 2019, Tesla hired Dane Butswinkas who was an outside counsel for the automaker.

Butswinkas only lasted about a month and was replaced by Jonathan Chang, an eight-year vetaran of Tesla’s legal team at the time.

Then Chang ended up leaving Tesla at the end of 2019 to be replaced by Alan Prescott, who had been associate and later deputy general counsel as well as director of regulatory affairs for the past two years.

Prescott was named acting general counsel and corporate secretary, virtually becoming Tesla’s top lawyer.

Now Prescott has updated his LInkedIn profile to announce that he is leaving Tesla to become chief legal officer of Luminar, a Lidar startup.

Tesla hasn’t publicly announced who is replacing him yet.

The fact that Tesla’s top lawyer is leaving to join a Lidar startup is also notable since the general counsel was working closely with Musk, who has often said that the technology has been overblown and has described it as a distraction to achieve full self-driving capability.

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