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Microsoft’s Stahlkopf Jumps to Cisco as Chief Legal Officer (3)

June 29, 2021, 6:21 PMUpdated: June 29, 2021, 8:47 PM

Microsoft Inc. general counsel Dev Stahlkopf is leaving the company amid a legal department restructuring to join Cisco Systems Inc. as its new executive vice president and chief legal officer.

Stahlkopf will start at San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco on August 2 after 14 years with Microsoft, where she began as a senior attorney. Longtime Cisco CLO Mark Chandler confirmed his retirement in an email to Bloomberg Law.

Cisco produces hardware and software that facilitates internet networks, and the company claims that 85% of internet traffic travels across Cisco’s systems. The company made more than $11 billion in profits last year, according to its annual report.

“Dev brings extensive experience to many key issues for Cisco including global geopolitical matters, cross-border data issues, data privacy, intellectual property and immigration reform,” Cisco chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins said in a Tuesday statement. “I am so pleased to welcome Dev to Cisco!”

Stahlkopf became Microsoft’s general counsel in 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile, where she worked under company president Brad Smith. The technology giant launched its search engine Bing and acquired Skype and LinkedIn Corp. during her tenure.

Stahlkopf’s departure comes as Microsoft has restructured its in-house legal group, according to an internal memo from Smith obtained by Bloomberg Law.

The company corporate vice presidents and deputy general counsel Lisa Tanzi and Hossein Nowbar to split its general counsel role. Tanzi, a 25-year Microsoft veteran, will lead the company’s customer experience and policy team. Nowbar, who has spent 23 years at Microsoft, will lead a new corporate legal affairs team and serve as the company’s corporate secretary.

Microsoft deputy general counsel Julie Brill, a former Hogan Lovells partner hired by the company in 2017 to oversee privacy and regulatory affairs, will continue to handle those duties and serve as its chief privacy officer. Brill will also assume responsibility for artificial intelligence, digital safety, accessibility compliance, and regulatory governance, Smith said in his memo.

Microsoft’s legal department, as noted by Smith in his memo below, has long been a recruiting ground for other technology companies. ByteDance Ltd., owner of TikTok, last year hired Microsoft corporate vice president and chief intellectual property counsel Erich Andersen to be its legal chief. Spotify Technology SA hired former Microsoft general counsel Horacio Gutierrez in 2016 and promoted him last year to its top legal role and made him head of global affairs. Workday Inc. also welcomed aboard former Microsoft deputy general counsel Richard Sauer to be its top lawyer in 2019.

Diversity Efforts, Bias Allegations

Stahlkopf is a vocal advocate for diversity in the legal industry. In May, she told Bloomberg Law that Microsoft had increased its focus on Black and Latino leadership at its outside law firms.

Her new employer has made similar commitments to diversity. Last September, Cisco pledged to increase the company’s percentage of Black employees at the entry to manager levels by 25% by 2023. As of 2019, just 3.8% of Cisco’s employees in the U.S. were Black.

Cisco and Microsoft have in recent years faced legal challenges from the Labor Department, alleging sex and race discrimination against employees.

Cisco agreed in March 2020 to pay nearly $5 million in lost wages and more to women and minority employees accusing the company of pay discrimination. Months later, Microsoft paid $3 million to settle allegations of race bias in its hiring practices.

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Microsoft believes there is always the need for improvement and we remain focused on creating environments where every Microsoft employee is able to do their best work,” a Microsoft spokesperson said at the time.

Before her time with Microsoft, Stahlkopf was an attorney with Perkins Coie.

Chandler retired from Cisco on May 6, his 65th birthday, after 25 years with Cisco and more than three decades as a Silicon Valley general counsel, he said in an email to Bloomberg Law. He’s now working on an access to justice project and formed his own consultancy, Whistler Strategies LLC, which he’s named after his dog.

(Updated with additional reporting on changes to Microsoft's in-house legal department.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com; Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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