Apple's board of directors asked Silicon Valley uberlawyer Larry Sonsini for advice when it prepared a controversial options grant for CEO Steve Jobs in 2001, according to a report in The Recorder, a legal news publication.
The report says that Sonsini--who made headlines last year for his involvement in Hewlett-Packard's boardroom spy scandal--also appears to be wrapped up in Apple's drama. It's not clear whether Sonsini actually approved the backdating of the options, a practice in which companies would assign a favorable date when the stock price was low--not the actual date of the grant--to a stock-option award. The report just says that former Apple general counsel Nancy Heinen consulted Sonsini regarding the grant after it had been approved by the company's board of directors.
Apple has admitted that two grants to Jobs carried such favorable dates, though the company has said that Jobs did not profit from the backdating and was unaware of the accounting implications of the move. Federal investigators have reportedly questioned Jobs, who was cleared of wrongdoing by outside lawyers commissioned by Apple's board of directors to investigate the backdating.
Sonsini's firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, advises dozens of Silicon Valley companies. However, relations with HP are a bit testy these days. The New York Times reported in December that while the company still uses the firm's services, Sonsini no longer advises the board.