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Microsoft has updated its Premier Provider Program (PPP) slate of preferred outside counsel, and there’s a significant new player on the 2013 roster. Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan, one of the largest minority-owned firms in the U.S., has been included in Microsoft’s biennial list of 12 go-to firms, taking its place alongside Am Law 100 firms Sidley Austin and Perkins Coie.
“Breaking into that very select group,” said firm Chairman Emery Harlan, has been “transformative for the firm and represents a ‘Jackie Robinson moment’ for the legal profession.” Of the 122 lawyers at GSH, 70 percent are minorities or women. The American Lawyer’s recent diversity survey of the largest law firms in the country (which does not include women as a minority group) found that in 2012, minority lawyers comprised 13.9 percent of the 228 responding firms.
“[This is] by far the most meaningful commitment that we have been able to develop with a corporation,” Harlan said.
Founded in Milwaukee in 1989, GSH now has 16 offices throughout the U.S. and has been assisting Microsoft with legal matters such as complex employment, IP litigation, and patent licensing since 2010, according to Harlan. The relationship began when Harlan met Brad Smith, Microsoft’s executive vice president and general counsel, through the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms. Harlan credits Smith with being, “the biggest proponent of diversity within the legal profession.”