Larry Sonsini Ousted As H-P Board's Ouside Counsel

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The pretexting scandal claims another victim, Silicon Valley super lawyer Larry Sonsini. This won't come as a surprise to anyone who watch Sonsini at the Congressional hearings earlier this year, where he came off as at least a bit evasive. Particularly frustrating was the fact that he seemed to be giving board members advice based on the legal work of Hewlett-Packard's general counsel. Kind of makes you wonder what part of outside counsel Sonsini didn't understand.

After the resignation, Mr. Sonsini, in his role as outside counsel, immediately interviewed Mr. Perkins. But he did not find that Mr. Perkins had resigned because of a disagreement with the company, which would have prompted the board to disclose the circumstances to the Securities and Exchange Commission. That has prompted an S.E.C. investigation.
Mr. Perkins also alerted the board to the use of pretexting, calling it illegal. In a response, Mr. Sonsini told him that the pretexting was “within legal limits,” though that opinion turned out to be based on the advice of the H. P. lawyer, now facing charges, who in turn had received the opinion from a Boston lawyer sharing an office with one of H. P.’s private investigators.
The Sonsini firm in late August interviewed people involved in the spying, as well as Mark V. Hurd, the company chairman and chief executive, and concluded again that nothing illegal had occurred. In early September, the company filed a statement to the S.E.C. disclosing the pretexting and stating that it was “not generally unlawful.”
A Congressional subcommittee asked Mr. Sonsini to testify during its investigation of the spying. He was called to testify alongside Ms. Dunn and had to sit in the witness seat for more than five hours, though she got the brunt of the queries. He defended his law firm’s work during the hearing and said that he considered pretexting to be unethical and improper.


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