Musk Shakes Up Twitter’s Legal Team as He Looks to Cut More Costs

Mr. Musk’s team has also deliberated the merits of not paying severance to the thousands of people who have left the company since he took over, when there were about 7,500 full-time employees. While Mr. Musk and his advisers had previously considered forgoing any severance when discussing cuts in late October, the company ultimately decided that U.S.-based employees would be given at least two months of pay and one month of severance pay so that the company would be compliant with federal and state labor laws.

Mr. Musk’s team is now reconsidering whether it should pay some of those months, according to two people familiar with the discussions, or just face lawsuits from disgruntled former employees. Many former employees still have not received any paperwork formalizing their separation from Twitter, five people said. Mr. Musk has already refused to pay millions of dollars in exit packages to executives he claims were terminated “for cause.”

As Twitter has downsized, Mr. Musk’s team has been hoping to renegotiate the terms of lease agreements, two people familiar with the discussion said. The company has received complaints from real estate investment and management firms including Shorenstein, which owns the San Francisco buildings that Twitter occupies.

A spokesman for Shorenstein declined to comment.

In other money-saving moves, Twitter has laid off its kitchen staff and begun to list office supplies, industrial-grade kitchen equipment and electronics from its San Francisco office for auction.

Mr. Musk also continues to cut staff and leaders, including Nelson Abramson, Twitter’s global head of infrastructure, and Alan Rosa, the global information technology head and vice president of information security, according to four people familiar with the moves.

On Sunday night, Mr. Musk sent two emails to Twitter’s staff with advice about how to work for him that he had previously shared with SpaceX and Tesla employees. One message focused on first principles thinking, a worldview based on the teachings of Aristotle to reduce assumptions to basic axioms, which Mr. Musk credited with helping him make difficult decisions. The other advocated against workplace hierarchies.

On Monday, Twitter notified members of its trust and safety council, an advisory group formed in 2016, that it would dissolve immediately. The council was created to guide Twitter through challenging safety problems and content moderation issues, and was made up of organizations focused on civil rights and child safety.