Cooley partner John Dwyer, a go-to lawyer for eBay Inc., will represent Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Meg Whitman in securities class actions stemming from HP's ill-fated acquisition of British software firm Autonomy.
Dwyer, co-chair of Cooley's securities litigation group, and Stephen Neal, the firm's chairman, will defend Whitman against accusations that she knew of problems with the 2011 Autonomy deal and gave false assurances to the public, said attorneys involved in the litigation.
Dwyer's ties to Whitman, a prominent figure in Silicon Valley who ran for governor in 2010, spring from his work for San Jose-based eBay, where Whitman served as CEO from 1998 to 2008.
Whitman joined HP's board of directors in March 2011 and replaced Leo Apotheker as CEO in September 2011, after the $10.2 billion deal to acquire Autonomy had been announced.
HP disclosed an $8.8 billion write down related to the Autonomy purchase last November, setting off a wave of investor actions. To date, roughly a dozen shareholder suits filed in the Northern District of California after the disclosure have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco.
San Diego plaintiffs firms Robbins Arroyo (previously Robbins Umeda) and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd were among the first to file and are likely to seek leading roles representing investors.
Other firms involved in the litigation include Morgan, Lewis & Bockius representing Hewlett-Packard; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for HP CFO Catherine Lesjak; and Fenwick & West for former controller James Murrin.
Plaintiffs lawyers allege HP insiders knew of accounting irregularities at Autonomy and deceived the market for months. Dwyer declined to comment.