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July 1, 2010 1:49 PM

Dechert Litigation Cochair Decamps for Microsoft

Posted by Brian Baxter

David Howard, the cochair of the white-collar and securities litigation group at Dechert, is leaving the firm to become corporate vice president and deputy general counsel in charge of litigation at Microsoft, according to sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer.

The news, which was announced late Wednesday, comes almost a month after Dechert proclaimed that prominent litigation partner Andrew Levander in New York would replace current firm chairman and CEO Barton Winokur as chairman by mid-2011.

Through a Dechert spokeswoman, Howard declined to comment on his move to Microsoft, which will take place in early August. At Microsoft, Howard will report directly to the company's general counsel, Brad Smith, a former partner at Covington & Burling.

Citing numbers provided by a Microsoft spokesman, The Legal Intelligencer reports that Microsoft's in-house legal and corporate affairs department has more than 1,000 employees, including 459 lawyers across 44 countries.

Despite Dechert not being one of Microsoft's preferred providers of outside legal services, Winokur told The Intelligencer that Howard has previously handled compliance work and other matters for the company.

"So they've had the chance to see just how good he is," Winokur said.

Winokur told The Intelligencer that he considered Howard one of his trusted advisers in leading Dechert through a period of growth and change. For the time being, Dechert partner William "Ned" Dodds in New York will continue to serve as cochair of the firm's white-collar and securities litigation group, Winokur said; a replacement for Howard has not yet been named.

In a statement released by Dechert, Howard said that he enjoyed his nearly 20 years at the firm.

"I've had the privilege of working on fascinating cases with extraordinary lawyers, and I have established friendships that I know will endure," Howard said. "I am proud of the way Dechert has evolved during my tenure here and of the role I played in that growth."

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