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Knowledge is Power
Litigators often turn to financial experts to help their clients achieve maximum outcomes, set the risk parameters for settlement to achieve the proper results. In many cases, litigators bring in the financial experts late in the game. This is often done, theoretically, to help clients defer fees that may not be “necessary” until mediation or trial. There is another perspective to consider.
The financial expert brings point of view which might not be recognize early on. Financial experts are trained in more than accounting and finance. The expert has additional skills such as forensic investigation experience, valuation experience, unique industry qualifications, damage identification and quantification skills, business turnaround and restructuring experience. The financial expert has received additional credentials beyond the typical Certified Public Accountant. An expert with a CVA, CFE, ABV, CFF, or CTP designation has received specialized training, demonstrated significant practical experience, and passed additional examinations. They are also required to receive continued education targeted to their certification regulations. The Financial Expert can add more value when brought in early to a dispute. They can increase the probability of a favorable settlement, mitigate damages, and maximize awards for your business or client. Knowledge is power, and the earlier the knowledge is added to the risk analysis, the more power your business and the litigator have for success. Consider this real life example:
Privately Owned Business (Plaintiff) Sues Law Firm and Attorney for Malpractice (Defendants)
A business owner, who conducted business throughout the United States, sued his attorney who had advised him for over 30 years on legal matters pertaining to commercial real estate, finance, leasing and other business matters. The business owner sued the law firm and the attorney, for damages in excess of $10 million dollars, claiming legal malpractice. The suit claimed that the attorney had (1) given the plaintiff bad advice on several multimillion dollar financing transactions (2) not informed the plaintiff of business losses in the operating businesses and (3) had knowledge of misappropriation of funds by company officers and did not disclose this to the business owner.
O’Keefe was hired to assess the damages in the complaint early in the discovery process. Within a short amount of time we were able to construct a timeline and supporting documentation to refute the financial claims in the case. Key to the quick analysis was our understanding of the financing and accounting for real estate partnerships, our knowledge of real estate industry trends and economics, as well as standard tax practices and accounting issues. O’Keefe’s background and experience in real estate and forensic analysis, allowed us to evaluate huge amounts of data in a very short time frame; getting to the heart of the defense efficiently. Our evaluation of the case was instrumental to the business owner dropping the litigation and all related claims at a very early phase. The Defendants did not have to go to trial and were cleared with no damages and no claims. Quick diagnosis of the issues, saved the client the significant legal fees that could have resulted from prolonged litigation, and neutralized over a $10 million dollar damage claim. The client avoided wasted time and money with a favorable result.
This example is just one of many that illustrates the power of early involvement of the financial and economic experts. The financial expert brings a different point of view and decades of experience and training enabling them to provide value to both the litigator and their client.