Under-fire Sonsini instructs Bush lawyer for HP hearing

Silicon Valley’s legendary technology lawyer Larry Sonsini, name partner of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, has hired one of the country’s leading white collar crime lawyers as he comes under fire for his role in the Hewlett Packard (HP) leaks scandal.

Sonsini has instructed Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld’s leading white-collar litigation partner Michael Madigan, who represented the Bush for President campaign as chief litigation counsel in the Florida recount hearings during the 2000 presidential election.

HP’s senior lawyers have each instructed their own legal advisers ahead of their appearance before a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing next Thursday.

HP has been besieged by investigations into boardroom spying from the US Department of Justice, California’s state attorney and federal regulators.

HP’s general counsel Ann Baskins, senior in-house lawyer Kevin Hunsaker and Sonsini have all been called by the committee, which will attempt to unravel who was behind HP’s internal inquiry into boardroom leaks to journalists this year.

The inquiry used a method known as pretexting (pretending to be someone else in order to obtain private phone records). California attorney general Bill Lockyer has said it is illegal (as reported in The Lawyer, September 14). The chairwoman of HP, Patricia Dunn, is also expected at the House committee hearing.

Baskins has hired Cristina Arguedas of Arguedas Cassman & Headley ahead of next week’s hearing. Arguedas has experience of helping GCs in trouble – she recently represented Apple’s ex-legal director, Nancy Heinen, another Sonsini client.

Meanwhile, Hunsaker, who The New York Times named as leading HP’s investigation, has hired another attorney with white-collar experience, Michael Pancer.

All three HP lawyers are expected to testify at the hearing and not invoke the Fifth Amendment (against self-incrimination), said a committee spokesman.