Legal Business Blogs

Microsoft general counsel promoted to president and chief legal officer

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, has been appointed as the company’s president and chief legal officer in a rare move that will see the lawyer take a broader role.

After 22 years at the software giant, Smith becomes Microsoft’s first company-wide president since 2002. While Smith has had a broad role at the company, he will now manage employees outside of the legal division and lead a string of new initiatives.

In addition to handling Microsoft’s legal work, Smith will also be responsible for privacy, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion. He will also play a bigger role in representing the company publically.

Smith was promoted to general counsel in 2002 and played a key role in negotiating an antitrust settlement with US Department of Justice that saw Microsoft change its business practices and open up to third parties.

As company president and chief legal officer, Smith will lead teams responsible for the company’s legal work, its intellectual property portfolio, patent licensing business, government affairs, public policy, corporate citizenship and social responsibility across 55 countries. He is also Microsoft’s corporate secretary and its chief compliance officer.

Before becoming general counsel, Smith spent three years leading the legal and corporate affairs team in Europe, then five years serving as the deputy general counsel responsible for legal and corporate affairs outside of the US. He started his career at Washington DC-based law firm Covington & Burling, where he eventually became a partner.

Smith, who has become an ambassador for the technology industry at large, earlier this year joined the board of online film company Netflix.