RIM’s top lawyer joins parade of resignations

The top lawyer at Research In Motion Ltd. has resigned and will soon leave the struggling BlackBerry maker, RIM said on Monday, joining a parade of long-time company executives to depart since Thorsten Heins took over as CEO earlier this year.

The loss of chief legal officer Karima Bawa — who litigated numerous patent disputes and helped write many of RIM’s commercial deals — follows the resignation of RIM’s head of global sales, Patrick Spence, last week.

The resignations come ahead of what are expected to be massive layoffs this year as the company prepares to launch BlackBerry smartphones run by an operating system completely different from that used in its legacy phones.

RIM’s shares have fallen some 75 per cent in the last year while its market share has shriveled against competition from iPhone maker Apple Inc and a slew of manufacturers using Google Inc’s Android operating system.

Bawa, who joined RIM in 2000, was promoted to general counsel and chief legal officer in late 2010. RIM said in a statement Bawa planned to stay on to support the hiring and transition of a replacement.

Analysts and former employees have long complained about what they viewed as a hyper-cautious corporate approach at RIM. That grew out of a drawn-out patent dispute early in the company’s rise and was exacerbated by the hiring of a slew of in-house lawyers afterwards.

RIM is quietly cleaning out layers of management and recruiting new people to fill important roles in a new structure being fashioned under Heins, who himself replaced longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company currently employs around 16,500 people globally. Two sources with close connections to RIM have told Reuters that RIM plans to bring its workforce closer to 10,000 by early next year.

The sources asked to go unidentified because their disclosures would hurt their relationships with RIM.

The cuts will affect RIM’s legal, marketing, sales, operations, and human resources divisions, one of the sources said.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE weekly newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered every two weeks, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please complete the form below to receive the weekly Canadian Legal Newswire and/or the Canadian Inhouse Legal Newswire.

Recent articles & video

PwC powers-up legal services with AI platform

Law careers may start on Instagram…

Top Intellectual Property and Labour and Employment Boutiques survey closes on Friday

Differentiating common law from marriage in family law

Insights on Quebec’s plan to restrict the sale of cannabis edibles

Make legal aid an election issue

Most Read Articles

True North and Rebel News seek judicial review on press accreditation denial for debates

Millennial lawyers look for the value proposition

EY Law overtakes PwC in global alternative legal services rankings

Convicted person has right to lesser of two punishments existing at time of commission or sentencing