Longtime Microsoft legal counsel steps down

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2001-11-21

Now that Microsoft Corp. has settled its antitrust case with the government and agreed to settle more than 100 other private antitrust cases, Bill Neukom, its executive vice president and general counsel of 22 years, is stepping down.

Neukom began handling Microsofts legal issues in 1979 as a partner in Seattle-based law firm Shidler, McBroom, Gates & Lucas (now Preston, Gates & Ellis), which was led by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates father. He joined the Microsoft full-time in 1985.

Brad Smith, who has served as Microsofts deputy general counsel for worldwide sales for the past five years, will replace Neukom.

Microsoft officials said its transition plan called for Smith to assume day-to-day management of the companys legal and corporate affairs activities early next year. Neukom would remain with the company through July 2002 to assist with this transition and other ongoing issues.

He led the teams dealing with the many legal challenges the Redmond, Wash. software firm has faced over the years, including the landmark antitrust case, disputes with Sun Microsystems, Caldera Systems Inc., Priceline, Bristol Technologies and a class action suit brought by temporary workers.

Neukom directed the companys successful seven-year dispute with Apple regarding intellectual property rights, as well as the response to the initial antitrust complaint brought by the U.S. government and and the European Union that culminated in a 1994 consent decree.

Neukom received his A.B. degree from Dartmouth College in 1964 and his LL.B. degree from Stanford University in 1967.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Neukom "has been an extraordinary part of Microsofts success and development for nearly a quarter of a century," he said in a statement.

For his part, Neukom said he "never dreamed what an amazing ride it was going to be … I feel good about the progress weve made on a wide range of issues."

Neukom sits on the boards of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Business Software Alliance, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, Dartmouth College, the University of Puget Sound, the University of Washington Foundation, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Seattle Art Museum and the Corporate Council for the Arts.

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