HP’s Dunn: I Am, Unambiguously, Not a Lawyer


[Note: Cal Law readers arriving here from today’s news alert, don’t forget to check the main blog page for our ongoing updates of HP’s congressional testimony today.]


Thursday morning the key players in the HP boardroom drama will shuffle in before a congressional subcommittee and explain … HP’s humble beginnings? You might think so, from the way CEO Mark Hurd’s prepared testimony (.pdf) begins. HP, he tells us, was founded “by two Stanford Engineering graduates who shared a belief that technology could make a contribution to people’s lives.” But that isn’t the only reason why the testimony of Patricia Dunn, the ex-chair, makes for more riveting reading.


Her lawyer, James Brosnahan, has managed to script 33 pages of testimony (.pdf) that don’t sound as though they were scripted by a lawyer. That’s by design, no doubt: Dunn’s defense here is that she’s no lawyer, and relied on General Counsel Ann Baskins and her deputy to sound any alarms that should have been sounded. “I was fully convinced that HP would never engage in anything illegal,” she plans to say, according to the supplied transcript. “Indeed, given that attorneys were unambiguously overseeing the [second] investigation … reinforced my understanding that the investigations had been and were being handled appropriately.”


At another point, she points the finger even less unambiguously at Baskins: “I was contacted by [HP ethics lawyer Kevin] Hunsaker, with Ms. Baskins in the loop on the communication,” she says. “Having asked for and received all needed assurances that this was a legal and common investigative technique,” she explains, she sent them to Hurd to decide what to do with the results of the leak investigation.


The other takeway from the testimony: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius is busy, busy, busy. Hurd says in his testimony that in the “two weeks” since he brought that firm in to take the lead on the various investigations, “numerous lawyers” there have billed “thousands of hours.” Morgan, Lewis was retained Sept. 8, so at most we are talking about 18 days. Since he said “thousands of hours” we can assume that means at least 2,000. That works out to at least 110 hours a day, every day. That’s full-time, flat-out billing for at least 10 lawyers. Assume a blended rate of, say $400 an hour, and those 2,000 hours total $800,000. And since all this math is based on the most conservative figures, probably a lot more.

— Greg Mitchell


One Response to “HP’s Dunn: I Am, Unambiguously, Not a Lawyer”

  1. Grace Suarez Says:

    Looks like Jim’s done his usual great work here. This is exactly what Dunn needs to be saying, even though it does make her sound sort of clueless. But Baskins needs to start worrying (and by hiring Cristina Arguedas it looks like she is). The fingers are starting to point at her, and the charges can’t be far behind.

    As for the “thousands of hours” billed by Morgan Lewis, either Hurd is throwing away HP stockholder money, Morgan Lewis is wildly padding its bills, or Hurd can’t do basic math.

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