US counsel make for bad company

Worrying times for general counsel in the US. In a week when Computer Associates ex-general counsel Steven Woghin was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in a scheme to artificially boost quarterly revenue statements through backdated sales contracts, several others have had the spotlight turned on them as the stock options scandal rushes on.

The former general counsel of Comverse Technology William Sorin pleaded guilty to criminal charges relating to backdating stock options and has been ordered to pay more than $3m (£1.52m) in penalties and has been banned from ever again serving as an officer or director at a company.

The disappearance of Apple’s general counsel Nancy Heinen via the back door leaves her as the sacrificial lamb, while fellow Silicon Valley legal chiefs Kent Roberts of McAfee, Sharon Le Duy of CNET and Susan Skaer of Mercury Interactive – who have all been booted out – are nervously awaiting indictments to land on their doorsteps. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has lawyers firmly in it sights. It remains to be seen if an example was made of Sorin, or if the SEC is just getting warmed up.Get the latest news and an irreverent commentary delivered to your desktop every day by subscribing to Lawyer News Daily.

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