Law Firms

Firm Named for Bill Gates’ Father Is Axed as Microsoft Preferred Provider

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The father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates now works for his son, but his former law firm has a less prominent position.

K&L Gates will no longer serve as a preferred legal provider for Microsoft, the Seattle Times reports. Microsoft asked law firms for bids in January and announced its 10 preferred legal providers last week. K&L Gates was not on the list, although it will still do some work for Microsoft.

Bill Gates Sr., 83, was a name partner at Preston Gates & Ellis before it merged and became K&L Gates. He is co-chair of his son’s $30 billion philanthropy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a Wall Street Journal story exploring the relationship between father and famous son. Bill Gates Sr. started the foundation 13 years ago from his home but now works with his son, who has been at the foundation full-time for the past seven months.

At one time, Microsoft was the biggest client for the senior Gates’ law firm, the Wall Street Journal story says.

“Behind the Bill Gates success story is the other William Gates,” the Wall Street Journal says. “The senior Mr. Gates balanced a family thrown off kilter by a boy who appeared to gain the intellect of an adult almost overnight. He served as a quiet counsel as his son jumped into and thrived in the cutthroat business world. When huge wealth put new pressure on the son, the elder Gates stepped in to start what is now the world’s largest private philanthropy.”

The elder Gates told a group of nonprofit leaders in a 2005 speech that he never thought he’d be in the position he holds now. “As a father, I never imagined that the argumentative young boy who grew up in my house, eating my food and using my name, would be my future employer,” he said.

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