Alumnus commits $20 million for new Law School building

William H. Neukom, a 1967 graduate of Stanford Law School and former general counsel for Microsoft Corp., has committed $20 million toward the construction of a new academic building for the school.

The William H. Neukom Fund will be tapped to develop a building to house clinics, classrooms and faculty offices. The design of the building will emphasize open common areas and use architecture to foster interaction among faculty, law students and the greater university community.

The project is still in the early stages of planning and subject to approval by the university board of trustees. A building site has not yet been determined, although it will be in proximity to the Law School, according to Judith Romero, associate director of media relations at the school.

"A building can be significant, not just as a physical space, but symbolically as well," Law School Dean Larry Kramer said. "This new building, and the opportunity it affords us to promote our vision architecturally, will be the foundation upon which all else rests. A building that fosters interaction will go far to create a more engaged and engaging environment—all to the benefit of the teaching and scholarship that goes on at the school."

A partner at Preston Gates & Ellis LLP in Seattle, Neukom is considered among the Law School's most prominent graduates. He has a long history of providing financial support to the school and leadership within its alumni community. He has served as a member of the Dean's Strategic Council since 2000 and as a member of the Board of Visitors Executive Committee since 2003. He endowed a chair, the William H. Neukom Professorship in Law, in 2002. The chair supports faculty working in Neukom's fields of interest, namely human rights, intellectual property rights, ethics and legal responsibility, global rule of law issues, and antitrust and consumer protection. The chair is currently held by Mark A. Lemley.

"The challenges and opportunities of the 21st century require the collaborative critical thinking and action of transdisciplinary teams of well-educated people," Neukom said. "Stanford Law School is dedicated to educating students who will become leaders in their profession and in their communities—in a world that is increasingly complex and ever changing. It is my hope that this new building will enhance a learning experience at the law school that prepares and inspires our students and faculty to make a difference."

Raised in the Bay Area, Neukom earned a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1964 and a law degree from Stanford in 1967. By 1977, he had joined the Seattle law firm Shilder, McBroom, Gates & Lucas (now Preston Gates & Ellis). Neukom's relationship with Microsoft began in 1978, when he was asked by William H. Gates II, a managing partner at the firm, to advise his son's fledgling business. Neukom served as Microsoft's lead lawyer for nearly 25 years.

Neukom's community activities include service on the boards of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the National Judicial College, the Pacific Council on International Policy and the University of Puget Sound. He has served on the Dartmouth College board of trustees since 1996. In 1996, he founded the Neukom Family Foundation, a private foundation directed by him and his children that invests in health and human services throughout the world.