Friday, September 15, 2006

Hiring a Former AUSA . . . Priceless

The Hewlett-Packard "pretexting" mess has put the company in the line of fire in state and federal investigations.  When the company first disclosed the issues related to the internal investigation on September 6, it was represented by Silicon Valley's leading firm, Wilson Sonsini.  Shortly thereafter, it retained Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to represent it in the federal case.  According to an article in The Recorder (here), Morgan Lewis partner John Hemann arranged a proffer session with the U.S. Attorney's office on Monday, September 11, only five days after the tempest started.  How do you get a meeting that quickly, perhaps arranged even before the federal investigation came to light publicly?  Hemann spent eight years in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California before being detailed to the Enron Task Force, where he was involved in the prosecutions of Andrew Fastow, Jeffrey Skilling, and Ken Lay.  Hemann joined Morgan Lewis in 2005 (firm biography here), and is already paying dividends by having the right contacts to get in the door quickly.  Given that the session has been described as a "proffer," I assume H-P has agreed to waive the attorney-client privilege -- despite recent calls to curtail the practice -- because so much of the company's conduct involves corporate counsel, both in-house lawyers and outside firms.  That early audience with the federal prosecutors may save H-P from facing criminal charges, a significant victory. (ph)

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