David Zapolsky is Amazon’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary. Before becoming Amazon’s General Counsel in 2012, Zapolsky served 13 years as Associate General Counsel, leading Amazon’s Litigation and Regulatory group and advising on a wide variety of litigation, privacy, consumer protection, competition law, securities regulation, intellectual property, and labor and employment matters.
Zapolsky founded the Amazon Legal Department’s pro bono program, known as the Amazon Justice League, in 2014 and signed onto the CPBO Challenge® initiative in 2016. The legal department partners with law firms and nonprofits around the world to address a wide range of issues such as representing refugees in immigration matters to drafting wills for first responders and their families. “Providing legal services to those unable to pay is not just an ethical obligation for attorneys – it gives the entire Amazon global legal team an opportunity to serve and learn about our community, and by extension our customers, in new and meaningful ways,” said Zapolsky about Amazon’s pro bono program. Examples of just a few of Amazon’s current projects include:
The Amazon Studios Legal team partnered with Public Counsel, a pro bono law firm in Los Angeles, to serve families who could otherwise not afford to make their adoptions official. “We helped our families prepare lots of court paperwork and made sure they were receiving the correct compensation,” explained Harmoni Cruz, Amazon Studios Corporate Counsel. Amazon and its Amazon Studios, Movies and TV in-house corporate legal team was selected for the 2017 Association of Corporate Counsel of Southern California (ACC-SoCal) Pro Bono Corporate Counsel of the Year Award for the team’s tireless support of the adoptions program.
- Seattle-Area Artists
On the third Wednesday of every month volunteers from Amazon’s legal team provide free one-on-one legal consultations to local artists. The regular clinics are held at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters in conjunction with Washington Lawyers for the Arts, a nonprofit that provides legal resources to local artists and arts organizations. Artists who attend the clinic find help on a number of issues including fair use, work-for-hire contracts, royalties, and copyright laws. “This program gives artists some of the tools and resources we need to be the art-makers we know we are supposed to be,” said one client.
- Wills for First Responders
Amazon partners with the Washington First Responders Wills Clinic to prepare estate planning documents for first responders, including police officers, sherrif’s deputies, firefighters, and paramedics. At a recent clinic, more than 50 Amazon legal professionals assisted 110 first responders, a record in the clinic’s history.
- Working Globally
Amazon legal teams from around the world dedicate time and effort to supporting their local community. For example, the legal team in China partnered with the nonprofit Beijing New Citizens Living Center to educate 60 fourth grade students at Xiangyang Elementary School about the law. The session was designed to help the children of migrant workers who recently moved from rural parts of China. Volunteers put on a four-act play that demonstrate why it is important to abide by laws and how to use the laws to protect themselves. Each act was followed by a lesson on the legal consequences of the characters’ actions as well as the rights of the victim.