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Friday, May 05, 2006, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Apple\'s top legal exec quietly departs

Exclusive: Apple Computer senior vice president and primary legal officer Nancy Heinen has left the company, AppleInsider has learned.

Heinen, whose official title was "General Counsel and Secretary," is the third member of Apple's executive team to depart from the company in as many months.

She follows in the footsteps of Chief Software Technology Officer, Avie Tevanian, and Senior Vice President of iPod Division, Jon Rubinstein, both of whom ended their tenure at the Mac maker in late March.

Like her two former colleagues, Heinen joined Apple in September of 1997 following the company's acquisition of NeXT Software, Inc. She served as the primary legal officer and was responsible for overseeing all legal matters for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

During her tenure at NeXT, Heinen served as the first in-house lawyer and went on to manage a four member legal team. She was also responsible for preparing NeXT for its planned initial public offering and was counsel for NeXT in its acquisition by Apple.

It's unclear on what terms Heinen departed from Apple, but on her way out the door she dumped over $7.5M worth of company shares acquired under Apple's 2003 Employee Stock Plan.

An Apple representative confirmed that the exec had left the company but could not say whether she retired, stepped down, or left for some other reason.

Heinen's replacement has yet to be named.