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Tesla general counsel leaving automaker after 2 months in role

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Tesla's general counsel left the company after only two months in the role. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE
Tesla's general counsel left the company after only two months in the role. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Tesla announced Wednesday general counsel Dane Butswinkas is leaving after just two months in the role, sending company shares down in market trading.

Tesla said Butswinkas, who is leaving to return to the law firm where he worked before, will be replaced as general counsel by Jonathan Chang, legal vice president and an eight-year veteran of the company.

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Butswinkas said although he's returning to the Washington, D.C., firm, he will work with Tesla as an outside consultant.

Shares of Tesla fell more than 1 percent on the news Wednesday.

Chang has helped Tesla raise money, guide the acquisition of SolarCity Corp. and fought to overturn franchise dealer laws that prohibit the car company from selling direct to consumers in Texas and other states.

Butswinkas' departure is the latest in a long line of top Tesla executives who've left the automaker over the last two years. More than 50 senior executives have left in that time.

The attorney's departure follows a prediction from CEO Elon Musk Tuesday that said Tesla vehicles will be fully self-driving by the end of 2019. By the end of 2020, he said, the feature will be so advanced it can "find you in a parking lot, pick you up and take you all the way to your destination without an intervention."

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