HP Crisis is More Fun, Fun News for Sonsini

Sure we’d all like the big stock portfolio, nice salary and cowed respect of Silicon Valley’s business community. But it still seems hard to be Larry Sonsini these days. First it was stock options. Then it was more stock options. And even more stock options.

Then this week, stories in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times stuck him smack in the middle of a corporate car wreck that those of us who are uninvolved are going to have some trouble looking away from. The Hewlett-Packard board implosion has all those things we’ve come to expect from a legal monsoon — corporate boards, a leak, eavesdropping. It’s as if Anthony Pellicano came up to Silicon Valley just for entertainment value.

Of course, Pellicano’s in jail, which rules him out as being the mystery sub-contractor who investigators — working at the behest of HP board members — hired to get the phone records of other board members. That was done by “pretexting” (also known as “lying about your identity”), sparking the HP furor. Of course, Sonsini was in the middle — the Times said he was the one who uncovered the pretexting.

That’s not Sonsini’s only involvement with HP in recent weeks. He also represented the company in its acquisition of Mercury Interactive, a deal that could jettison the most prominent piece of civil backdating litigation, and create a potential conflict for his firm, which would be one more entanglement in Sonsini’s web.

Justin Scheck

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