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Originally published May 14, 2009 at 8:39 AM | Page modified May 14, 2009 at 8:45 AM

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K&L Gates loses preferred status as Microsoft law firm

The law firm K&L Gates, named for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' father, has been dropped as one of Microsoft's preferred legal providers...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The law firm K&L Gates, named for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' father, has been dropped as one of Microsoft's preferred legal providers.

The software company's preferred-provider program consolidates its legal work among fewer firms and allows the company to gain some savings in legal costs.

Microsoft solicited bids in January and notified firms that made the cut last week, the company said. Ten were selected, but K&L Gates' status was not renewed.

Although it's no longer considered a preferred provider, it could still provide some services to Microsoft.

"While K&L Gates is not among these 10, it will remain a valued and long-standing partner and a significant contributor to our success," said David Bowermaster, a Microsoft spokesman.

K&L Gates was the product of a merger between Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, a multinational law firm, and Preston Gates & Ellis, the oldest law firm in Seattle that dates back to 1883.

At the time of the 2007 merger, Preston Gates had 420 attorneys.

While the law firm will continue to provide some services to Microsoft, it will mean less going forward. K&L Gates did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Microsoft was one of Preston Gates' most important clients. Before the two law firms merged, Preston Gates played a major role defending Microsoft during the U.S. antitrust case.

Attorneys who have worked there include Bill Gates Sr., former Microsoft legal counsel Bill Neukom, retired Sen. Slade Gorton and civic leader Jim Ellis.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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