Hershey promotes new top lawyer as ex-GC heads to WilmerHale

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Hershey's chocolate bars are shown in this photo illustration in Encinitas, California January 29, 2015. Chocolate maker Hershey Co reported a lower-than-expected quarterly revenue as demand for bakery and meat snacks hurt chocolate sales. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS LOGO)

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NEW YORK, NY (Reuters) - The Hershey Company has promoted James Turoff to senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, the chocolate maker announced Thursday.

Turoff has already been leading the company's legal department on an interim basis since December, when former general counsel Damien Atkins abruptly departed from the role, citing a family illness. Last week Atkins joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr as senior counsel.

Atkins had led the company since 2018, after serving as GC of Panasonic Corp. of North America. At Hershey, he helped expand efforts to promote diversity, including in the company's dealings with outside counsel. He also led the charge in Hershey's $1.5 million commitment to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund last year. Atkins is currently board chair of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

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Turoff's career at Hershey started seven years ago. He has served as vice president and deputy general counsel in the governance, M&A and commercial division and as associate general counsel, according to his LinkedIn page. He will report directly to Hershey chairman and chief executive Michele Buck.

"James brings depth of experience and has proven how to effectively work and lead across legal disciplines, balancing our enterprise ambitions with sound risk and opportunity management," Buck said in a statement. "He has risen through the legal department here at Hershey and understands the complexities and opportunities within the business."

Prior to Hershey, Turoff served as assistant general counsel of corporate and securities at industrial services firm Harsco, director of corporate governance and securities at Scotts Miracle-Gro and worked as an associate at Jones Day.

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Arriana McLymore reports on the business of law, including diversity in the profession, corporate practices, legal education and attorney career life cycles.