Microsoft conflict forces Jones Day partner to quit

Jones Day Reavis & Pogue in Frankfurt is to lose a top forensic services partner following a conflict of interest involving his longstanding client Microsoft.

Helmut Goerling only joined Jones Day at the beginning of the year from Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener where he headed the Düsseldorf office. But given the choice between losing Microsoft as a client or leaving Jones Day, he opted for the latter.
Goerling, whose clients also include Dresdner Bank and Siemens, will set up his own firm and advise Microsoft as a sole practitioner.
The conflict arose when Microsoft asked Goerling to advise it on organised software piracy issues. Three of Jones Day’s biggest clients in the US are AOL, IBM and Texas Instruments, and all three companies are involved in a litigation battle against Microsoft in the US.
Goerling said: “We tried to find a solution, but from the US legal point of view it wasn’t possible to waiver the conflict. The legal market I work in is closed because of conflicts. At the end of the day there were bound to be conflicts because Jones Day is very successful as a litigation law firm in cases against German companies.”
This is not the first time that a conflict has arisen during Goerling’s time at Jones Day. In the past 10 months he has been forced to turn down work from a number of clients, including Siemens.
Siemens was a client that followed him from Beiten Burkhardt, but because of conflicts he was forced to refuse the company’s instruction and subsequently lost it as a client. Now that he is leaving the firm he has resumed discussions with the company, but it is not yet clear whether it will return to him.
Goerling said: “At my firm I will concentrate my work on strategic consulting from big companies and big enterprises. I will advise companies that are damaged, or potentially damaged, from white collar crime, such as money laundering, fraud and software piracy.”
On the Microsoft case, Goerling will advise on the criminal investigation authority, while Willkie Farr & Gallagher will be instructed on the court work.