On the same floor as the legal department, the HP Archives contain some of the company's earliest and most pivotal products: audio oscillators, wrist instruments, scientific calculators, personal computers. To rally the legal department, Schultz needs to remind them of this history, Cooperman said.
"The quality of the department and its role in shaping HP are things that need to be emphasized so lawyers really feel that pride," he said. "And the general counsel also needs to display vision and a sense of where the company is going."
Changing of the guard
If there is anyone who understands what Schultz is up against, it may be Charnas, who served as acting general counsel after Ann Baskins resigned over the legal department's use of pretexting to spy on journalists and members of its board in an attempt to determine where leaks about the company where coming from. The furor created an avalanche of work for the legal department, Charnas said, including advising executives about the unfamiliar challenges they faced and managing regulatory filings to document leadership changes. And they were facing questions from outside the department.
"I think everyone became much more skeptical of the lawyers," said Brad Haymond, a patent attorney who worked for HP in Oregon until 2007.
Lisa LaForge, a corporate counsel who left HP in 2010, said she and her colleagues were shocked to see such a scandal rocking the company that some knew as the "boy scout of Silicon Valley."
"The company had such a long and straightforward history of doing so well," Charnas said. "It was a bit of a challenge to get the lawyers working up to speed."
Six years later, the department is no longer a stranger to such challenges. Charnas left HP after being passed over for the permanent general counsel position for Holston, a former prosecutor and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner who represented the company in the pretexting scandal. Charnas read the selection of a litigator for the top spot as a harbinger of future legal battles to come.
"That led me to believe that the company thought it was in fairly deep trouble," he said.
Over the years, changes of the guard have altered the makeup of HP's legal departmentespecially in the wake of scandals. Charged with helping the company move forward after pretexting, Holston shook up the legal department. A champion of Hurd's push to cut costs, Holston submitted attorneys to more rigorous performance reviews and implemented layoffstrading long-term lawyers for junior attorneys, some say. But others note that Holston leveraged his close relationship with Hurd to elevate the legal department. Whereas some of his predecessors had answered to the chief financial officer, Holston reported directly to Hurd.
Their bond grew more complicated when Holston was tasked with investigating Hurd's behavior after an HP contractor alleged Hurd had sexually harassed her. When Hurd resigned, Holston denounced his behavior as reflecting a "profound lack of judgment," though the company did not find evidence of sexual harassment.