Gates divorce ropes in Big Law boldface names, veterans of Bezos split

Bill and Melinda Gates attend the Presidential Medals of Freedom ceremonies in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

(Reuters) - With billions at stake in their divorce, Bill and Melinda Gates have turned to heavyweight partners at Munger, Tolles & Olson and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, as well as to Washington state veterans of another multibillion-dollar breakup.

The legal teams, which appear on divorce papers the Gates' filed in King County Superior Court on Monday, include advisors known for representing titans of finance as well as tech.

Bill Gates, the co-founder of software giant Microsoft Corp, tapped name partner Ronald Olson from Munger, Tolles & Olson, whose founder Charlie Munger serves as vice chairman of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Olson is himself a Berkshire director and longtime advisor, and has a clientele that has included Facebook Inc's Mark Zuckerberg, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Intel Corp in major corporate deals and contests.

Munger partners Robert Denham and Eric Tuttle are also representing Gates, as is Wendy Goffe, an estate-planning attorney at Stoel Rives, and Mercer Island, Washington-based attorney Ted Billbe.

Melinda Gates, meanwhile, has assembled a team that includes Paul, Weiss partner Bruce Birenboim, a prominent trial lawyer who has represented Citigroup Inc and the National Football League, and Loretta Ippolito, an estate-planning lawyer who co-chairs the firm's personal representation department.

She has also retained a pair of attorneys from Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich, which bills itself as being "one of the most prominent matrimonial law firms" in the country. Attorneys from the firm represented fashion designer Georgina Chapman in her divorce from disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, according to press reports.

Melinda Gates is also represented by Sherri Anderson, a Bellevue, Washington-based attorney, according to filings made in King County Superior Court.

The Gates divorce is at least the second megabillions divorce for both Anderson and Bill Gates lawyer Billbe in as many years. Billbe and Anderson found themselves on opposite sides of MacKenzie Scott's 2019 divorce from Inc CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, according to CNN. Billbe represented Scott while Anderson represented Bezos.

None of the attorneys in the Gates case immediately responded to requests, nor did representatives for Bill Gates.

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.