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Airbnb taps ex-Biden chief of staff Ron Klain as top lawyer

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Nov 20 (Reuters) – Former Biden White House chief of staff Ron Klain will join Airbnb as its top lawyer, the company said on Monday.

Klain most recently was a partner at U.S. law firm O’Melveny & Myers since April. He rejoined the firm, where he worked earlier in his career, after holding the top advisor role in the White House until February.

He will join San Francisco-based Airbnb as chief legal officer on Jan. 1 and report to co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, the company said.

“Ron is both a big-picture strategic thinker and a highly skilled operator, and I’m thrilled he’ll be a close advisor,” Chesky said in a statement.

In his most recent stint at O’Melveny, Klain was a member of the firm’s executive committee and headed its strategic counseling and crisis management practice. The Los Angeles-founded firm has about 800 lawyers globally.

A longtime Democratic staffer, he was earlier chief of staff to former Vice President Al Gore and to Biden when he was vice president under President Barack Obama.

Klain said he had planned to be at O’Melveny indefinitely, but the opportunity to join Airbnb “was impossible to pass up.”

O’Melveny chair Bradley Butwin said in a statement that the firm appreciates Klain’s contributions and will continue to work closely with him as a client.

Klain will succeed Rich Baer, who joined Airbnb as legal chief in 2019 and announced his retirement last month, according to a company spokesperson.

Jay Carney, a former Amazon executive who previously served as White House press secretary to President Barack Obama and communications director to Biden when he was vice president, joined Airbnb as global head of policy and communications last year.

A New York judge in August dismissed a June lawsuit Airbnb had filed against New York City over legislation the company called a “de facto ban” against short-term rentals. The law took effect in September.

Cities around the United States and globally are more closely regulating short-term rentals, including by requiring hosts to obtain licenses and pay registration fee, or by limiting rentals in business districts.

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Sara Merken reports on the business of law, including legal innovation and law firms in New York and nationally.

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