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The court battle over Hewlett-Packard Co.’s merger with Compaq Corp. ended nearly three months ago, but the litigators are still sparring. Steven Schatz, the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner who defended HP, and Cooley Godward chairman Stephen Neal, who represented Walter Hewlett, on Tuesday leaped into a spontaneous and snarky rehashing of the case. They were paired in what was billed as an insightful discourse on the underlying strategic issues of the suit Hewlett filed in April to stop HP’s merger with Compaq. After a three-day trial, Hewlett was unsuccessful and the merger went through. But after their exchange of thinly veiled barbs at an Association of Business Trial Lawyers dinner in Santa Clara, it’s clear that Neal isn’t about to accept defeat quietly and Schatz isn’t shy about reminding people that his side won. By the time the pair was wrapping up, Neal was forced to stand at his place to make his point instead of taking the podium, which Schatz was hugging with both arms. “Does he ever give up the podium?” Neal griped. Moderator Claude Stern, a Fenwick & West partner who held no sway over the firmly planted Schatz, shrugged and said, “no.” Schatz, who led the HP defense team of some 50 litigators, continued to outline how he successfully defended his client. Hewlett had claimed HP managers were withholding internal financial reports that suggested post-merger revenue projections were not what the company had revealed to investors. He also alleged that HP managers used the promise of future investment banking business to strong-arm Deutsche Bank Asset Management into reversing some of the proxy votes it cast against the merger. Neal claimed that Schatz had asked that he not bring up Deutsche Bank on the panel. But within minutes of their introductions, Neal opened with some craftily spun facts of the case and then launched into detailed examination of his courtroom exhibits regarding HP’s dealings with Deutsche Bank. Projecting onto giant screens a series of blown-up images of excerpted text from e-mails, courtroom testimony and court documents, Neal walked the 120 lawyers in attendance through the main points of his case. Schatz took up the gauntlet and launched into his own overhead presentation on how the Delaware court ruled in his favor. “Now you know how I felt in court,” Schatz said, following Neal’s opening remarks. “Steve was the primary witness for [Hewlett]. The Chancellor gave him broad license . . . and he did not resist the temptation to state his own views.” The pair didn’t close, however, without sharing some insight into the choices they made. For one thing, Neal said that if he were in Schatz’s shoes, he too would have filed a motion to dismiss, as Schatz had done. The motion was denied, but in his ruling, Delaware Chancellor William Chandler III tipped off the two sides on what he wanted to see revealed in greater detail during trial. The two attorneys also agreed that preparing for a bet-your-company dispute in about 30 days was a learning experience. Schatz said the fast-track cut down on the amount of pre-trial maneuvering and made the process more straightforward. And, according to Schatz in his final remarks, “it helps to have the facts, and we had the facts.”

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