Microsoft firm selects new chairman

Preston Gates & Ellis, the Seattle firm founded by Microsoft guru Bill Gate’s father, has elected a new chairman.

Former Microsoft executive vice president of law and corporate affairs William Neukom will take over the role from Richard Ford who has spent 18 years at the firm. During his time Ford was managing partner for three years and chairman for ten. He will continue at Preston Gates as senior counsel.

In his role as chairman Neukom will be involved in Preston Gates management as a member of the firm’s governing body: the executive committee.

Neukom was Microsoft’s first lawyer and worked at the company for 17 years, he oversaw the growth of the legal department from five to more than 600 staff worldwide.

The new chairman was previously a partner with Shidler McBroom Gates & Lucas which then merged in 1990 to become Preston Gates & Ellis. Neukom had moved in-house to the software giant in 1985 but re-joined the law firm in July 2002.