In a surprise move, Microsoft has scrapped US firm K&L Gates - the firm co-founded by Bill Gates senior - from its recently reviewed list of preferred legal providers.
As reported by The American Lawyer, Microsoft began its preferred providers programme in 2005, but this is the first time it has been reviewed. The firm Preston Gates & Ellis was on the original 2005 list, and Microsoft kept it on when it merged with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham, to become K&L Gates, in 2007.
At the time, reports The American Lawyer, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith welcomed the merger for both firms and clients.
Following the Microsoft review, the list of preferred providers has been trimmed from 16 to 10, but K&L Gates is the most notable omission. Microsoft has had a longstanding relationship with the firm, which was involved in taking Microsoft public in 1986 and assisting Sullivan & Cromwell during the company's high-profile antitrust battle during the 1990s.
Notably, however, K&L Gates last year lost partner William Neukon, who left to take up the role of managing general counsel of baseball team the San Fransisco Giants. Neukon had previously been Microsoft's general counsel.
Microsoft spokesman David Bowermaster said in a statement that K&L Gates would still carry out some of its legal work, despite being left off the preferred provider list.
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