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Top row, from left: Thomas Ting, Chul Kwak, Jeff Cook. Bottom row, from left: Emily Rusham, Josh Strom, Adriane Heideman
Top row, from left: Thomas Ting, Chul Kwak, Jeff Cook. Bottom row, from left: Emily Rusham, Josh Strom, Adriane Heideman

In-House Counsel 2022: Starkey Legal Department

From a legal standpoint, recent years at the Starkey Laboratories have been … dynamic. An embezzlement case sent company executives to prison, shaking the 55-year-old producer of hearing aids.

Into that  breach has stepped Starkey’s legal team. While helping to navigate the company through a federal investigation, the group, led by Thomas Ting, also helped Starkey maintain strong business performance.

The team’s functions cover commercial, intellectual property, operations, information technology and employment.

The commercial team is led by Chul Kwak; IT and intellectual property management, Jeff Cook; human resources, Emily Ruhsam; and regulatory and operations, Josh Strom;
Colleagues say that Ting rebuilt the legal department virtually from the ground up. With some help from outside counsel, Ting and his team resolved several high-profile legal disputes in 2021, including a class-action claim related to Starkey’s employee stock ownership plan, a move resulting from the financial fraud problems of the past.

The legal department also implemented an IP portfolio management strategy, a global compliance program, a legal governance strategy and a new real estate function.

The team, through a cross-functional engagement strategy (IP, regulatory, marketing, supply chain) helped support the successful launch of a new artificial intelligence-powered line of hearing aids known as Evolv.

Working with Starkey’s human resources team, chief health officer and president/CEO, the legal team, principally Ruhsam, has effectively managed various COVID-related initiatives. Those have included a $1,000 vaccine incentive for U.S.-based employees, a safe return to campus, a flexible work plan, employee communications and education on health-agency guidance.

For his part, Ting provides legal support to various departments of Starkey. Not only has he restructured, assembled and managed a legal department, he also provides direct support to the board of directors, chairman/CEO, president and the company’s executive leadership team.

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