Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Conflicts of Interest + Interesting Conflicts


As many are customers of Autonomy, many law firms are following the recent allegations of impropriety connected with HP acquisition of the company with great interest. Interesting news on the potential conflicts front --
"In Autonomy Debacle, HP Turns to Morgan Lewis" --
  • "But in 2011 during the ill-fated acquisition of Autonomy, Morgan Lewis did not represent HP, a valuable and long-time client. Instead, Morgan Lewis served as an adviser to Autonomy, helping secure approval of the deal from antitrust regulators."
  • "That could raise a sticky set of conflicts for HP and Morgan Lewis as the company prepares to launch and defend an onslaught of legal actions related to HP's recent announcement it would write down $8.8 billion related to the problem-plagued deal."
  • "Rory Little, a law professor at UC-Hastings and ethics expert, said transactional lawyers tend to downplay conflicts of interest because everyone is working toward the same goal of striking a deal. 'Silicon Valley has never understood that conflicts rules applied to lawyers in transactions. It's all been on a handshake and trust,' he added. 'But something can always go sour. That's the reason you're not supposed to represent both sides in a transaction.'"
  • "Regardless of how Morgan Lewis crafted its engagement letter with Autonomy, there is no such thing as 'limited' representation of a client, Little said. 'It's like limited pregnancy. They either represent the client or they don't.'"
Here's one that has to be read to be believed (free registration required for full article) -- "Dallas judge boots Bickel & Brewer from multimillion-dollar lawsuit" --
  • "A Dallas judge has booted Bickel & Brewer from a big-dollar international lawsuit, after accusations that the law firm and its Chilean co-counsel paid a witness for insider information.
  • "The case has been fiercely argued by two of Dallas’ premier trial lawyers for more than four years. Legal fees and expenses for the two sides have likely exceeded $1 million. There have been allegations back and forth of witness bribery, withholding of evidence and fabrication of testimony."
  • "Among the allegations was that Bickel & Brewer offered to pay $1 million over three years to a former executive for the Chilean company for inside, privileged information about the case."
  • "In a 26-page ruling, Cortez [State District Judge] said 'there is without question a genuine threat' that Bickel & Brewer lawyers have knowledge of confidential documents and privileged information that give the law firm an unfair and improper advantage in the litigation. The judge, however, denied requests by defense lawyers to financially sanction Bickel & Brewer."

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