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Gutierrez
Microsoft General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez

Microsoft announced a sweeping reorganization of its legal team on Friday as the company builds a new department around recently promoted Microsoft President Brad Smith.

The biggest change is the appointment of Horacio Gutierrez to the job of general counsel, still reporting to Smith. He will be part of a newly formed department, called Corporate, External and Legal Affairs.

Gutierrez first joined Microsoft as a senior attorney in 1998. He led the company’s intellectual property legal team between 2006 and 2014, before moving over to products and services for the past year.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the changes we saw today are part of a broader initiative to put a larger emphasis on things like privacy, security and external relationships, particularly with government agencies, universities and nonprofits.

In addition to Gutierrez’s new role, Microsoft is shuffling around other key executives to refocus the organization. Mary Snapp, who was the company’s first female attorney 27 years ago, is now the corporate vice president for philanthropy. Longtime privacy lawyer John Frank will be moving to Brussels to head up Microsoft’s EU government affairs unit as debates around privacy and security heat up abroad. John Seethoff has been named the new corporate secretary, picking up Smith’s duties surrounding corporate governance. Finally, Scott Charney will continue to lead Microsoft’s “trustworthy computing” team, but that group will now report to Smith.

Smith previously held the general counsel post, but his duties over the past few years had grown far beyond a typical top corporate lawyer. Smith was given a title to match his position in Microsoft’s leadership team in September when he was named the only company-wide president Microsoft has had since 2002.

Smith was also named chief legal officer, though the company said he would be handing off some of his courtroom responsibilities in order to be more actively involved in strategic planning.

 

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