Well, well… The NYT reports today that…
Hewlett-Packard’s board has ended a crucial advisory relationship with Larry W. Sonsini, the powerful Silicon Valley lawyer, according to a person with close connections to the board.
The move is the latest repercussion from the company’s spying on directors and journalists, which has led to the criminal prosecution of its former chairwoman and a senior company lawyer by California authorities, several federal investigations, $14.5 million in civil fines as well as considerable embarrassment for a company that prided itself on ethical behavior.
After the year’s end, Mr. Sonsini and the firm he helped build, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, will no longer serve as outside counsel to the board. The law firm will still do legal work for Hewlett-Packard. A company spokesman said yesterday that “Wilson Sonsini will continue to have a relationship with H. P.”
Mr. Sonsini and his firm were not involved in the spying, which began after Patricia C. Dunn, the H. P. chairwoman, directed company lawyers and investigators to find the source of board leaks. But he was caught up in the events, and was criticized for failing to prevent the incident from damaging the H.P.
H.P.’s search for another lawyer to serve as outside counsel is expected to set off a scramble among Silicon Valley firms. “It’s not a big revenue item for a law firm, but being able to say to other clients that ‘I give advice to H.P.,’ is a prestige thing,” said a lawyer who did not want to be identified because he has done work for the company.
A spokeswoman for the Sonsini firm, Courtney Dorman, said, “There is a lot of ongoing work with H. P.” The firm handled the transactional work for H. P.’s recent $4.5 billion acquisition of Mercury Interactive, a business software company.
Mr. Sonsini, who serves as chairman of the firm he joined in 1966, had no comment. Ms. Dorman also said that the firm’s chief executive, John V. Roos, had no comment.