Ex-Microsoft litigation leader joins law firm Morgan Lewis

  • Former Microsoft VP adds to Morgan Lewis’ new Seattle outpost
  • David Howard was previously a practice leader at Dechert

(Reuters) – David Howard, a former litigation and compliance leader at Microsoft Corp, has joined law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as a partner, the firm said on Wednesday.

Howard, who was previously the software giant’s corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for litigation, competition law and compliance, joins Morgan Lewis’ new office in Seattle, where the firm launched last summer.

The Philadelphia-founded law firm entered Seattle with a 34-member team, including 14 lawyers from local litigation firm Calfo Eakes, which has since stopped operating. Howard called the Calfo Eakes team “the finest boutique litigation practice in Seattle.”

Howard said he most recently worked on special projects for Microsoft after stepping down from the litigation chief role after he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in 2018. He said he is now cancer-free.

Microsoft’s current litigation head Jon Palmer said in a statement that Howard “had an enormous positive impact” and the company looks forward to working with him at Morgan Lewis.

Howard previously led the white collar and securities litigation practice at law firm Dechert before joining Microsoft in 2010 to lead the litigation team, oversee internal investigations and regulatory enforcement matters globally, the firm said. He also worked as a federal prosecutor and as an attorney on the White House Counsel’s task force on the Iran/Contra matter.

Several other law firms have announced attorney hires from big technology companies this week.

Former Apple Inc chief privacy officer Jane Horvath joined law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Jamey Goldin, former energy regulatory counsel at Alphabet Inc’s Google LLC, rejoined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. Kate Patchen, previously associate general counsel for competition at Meta Platforms Inc, started at Covington & Burling and Ryan Richardson, former lead global partnerships counsel at Stripe Inc, joined Davis Wright Tremaine.

While at Microsoft, Howard authored a blog post that made headlines in 2017, in which he said the technology giant planned to move more of its work with law firms to alternative fee arrangements, in a shift away from paying outside firms by the hour.

Without commenting on Microsoft’s effort, Howard said he thinks “there will be continuing discussions between companies and law firms about how best to pay for the value that firms bring to a particular engagement.”

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Sara Merken

Thomson Reuters

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com

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