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The combined weight of investigations by state prosecutors, federal regulators and the Department of Justice has forced lawyers in Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom mess to get their own attorneys. Ann Baskins, the HP general counsel, has hired Berkeley white-collar specialist Cristina Arguedas. Kevin Hunsaker, the HP senior counsel and ethics director � who the New York Times has reported was in charge of the boardroom leak investigation � has hired San Diego solo Michael Pancer, who also specializes in white-collar criminal cases. In addition to the in-house lawyers, the Wall Street Journal’s online edition reported Tuesday that top Silicon Valley lawyer Larry Sonsini, who advises HP’s board, has hired Michael Madigan, a Washington, D.C.-based partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, to represent him in connection with an upcoming congressional subcommittee hearing on the matter. Arguedas, a partner at Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, has represented a string of clients caught up in high-profile investigations � most recently Nancy Heinen, the former general counsel of Apple Computer, a company now under scrutiny for its stock options practices. Arguedas said Baskins hired her in response to the many investigations � not because she’s done anything wrong. “Anyone who’s in a tempestuous situation is smart to hire a lawyer to go through it with them,” Arguedas said. Baskins’ name has been in the middle of the HP board donnybrook, which has several government agencies trying to figure out whether the company illegally spied on its board members and journalists to ferret out press leaks. “I’m not aware of her doing anything wrong at all,” Arguedas said. “She is a person of great integrity, and she is general counsel of one of the top U.S. companies. This is a woman at the top of her profession.” Pancer also backed his client. “Mr. Hunsaker has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Pancer said.
PRETEXT IN CONTEXT

Follow all the coverage of Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom spying scandal � and the continuing legal fallout.

Arguedas added that Baskins intends to testify later this month before a congressional subcommittee investigating the issue. So does Sonsini. “Larry intends to testify at the upcoming hearings and appreciates the opportunity,” Courtney Dorman, a spokeswoman for Sonsini’s firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, wrote in a Tuesday e-mail. “We are working with Akin Gump under the leadership of former Congressman Bill Paxon to help us understand the congressional process.” News stories over the last few weeks have painted an unclear portrait of the roles lawyers played in HP’s probe of its own board members. Problems at the company initially came to light when HP board member Thomas Perkins, who resigned in protest of the company’s leak investigation methods, became outraged that the company did not initially disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission the reasons for his departure. In an e-mail exchange with Perkins earlier this year, Sonsini said “I was not involved in the design or conduct of the investigation,” and that it was run by the HP legal department. Sonsini has continued to advise the board since the company’s probe was disclosed. But over the last week, the Times reported that HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn turned the investigation over to Baskins in its early stages, and that Hunsaker was in charge of supervising it. And the Journal reported Tuesday that investigators used legally suspect means to access Sonsini’s phone records, in addition to those of board members, HP employees and journalists. News reports have also pointed to a Boston investigative firm as the one responsible for hiring people to “pretext” � or lie -� in calls to phone company officials to gain access to the phone records of board members. The Times reported Monday that Boston investigative firm Security Outsourcing Solutions provided HP with an opinion from a Boston lawyer that the pretexting was legal. The legality of such tactics is up for consideration by the San Francisco U.S. attorney’s office and the California attorney general. They’re both investigating the issue, and Attorney General Bill Lockyer has said he has enough evidence to indict people inside and outside HP. John Hemann, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius representing HP, couldn’t be reached by press time. But Arguedas and Pancer both said their clients should have nothing to worry about. “I’m looking forward to all the facts being put out in the open,” said Pancer, who last year gained headlines representing San Diego City Councilman Ralph Inzunza, who was convicted in a corruption case involving strip-club regulations. Pancer has also gained renown as a poker champion, competing in the World Series of Poker. Pancer also said that HP isn’t the only victim of leaks. Over the last week, he said, information making its way into newspapers has portrayed his client unfairly. “There has been selective leaking of information, much of it false, which has created a false impression. And we hope to correct that,” he said.

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