When Apple Inc. tried to hammer out a new compensation agreement for iconic CEO Steve Jobs in 2001 — an agreement now being probed by federal prosecutors — the company called on Larry Sonsini, the lead partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

People with knowledge of the federal probe say the lawyer — an expert on corporate governance — was consulted by Apple’s board and legal department on a 7.5 million-share grant that’s become the core of the criminal probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission and San Francisco U.S. attorney’s office.

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