O'Keefe in the News

Expert Witness: Accountant Works Closely With Lawyers on Litigation Cases

Expert Witness: Accountant Works Closely With Lawyers on Litigation Cases

February 13, 2018

As published by Sheila Pursglove, Legal News

Although Susan Koss sports the letters CPA rather than JD after her name, she has plenty of familiarity with the legal world.

A partner and managing director at the financial transactional consulting firm O’Keefe, Koss specializes in litigation support, business valuation and forensic accounting services.

During the last 17 years, she has worked on numerous litigation assignments involving the quantification of economic damages for a variety of matters such as large product recalls and warranty matters.

Her work, and that of her colleagues in Bloomfield Hills and Grand Rapids, helps attorneys to spot case vulnerabilities, rebut other expert analyses and anticipate opposing counsel’s tactics, to craft strategies and reach settlements with greater financial results.

“I assist clients through every step of the litigation process from the initial meeting until trial, if need be,” she said. “I provide clients with both an understanding of the key financial issues in their case and guidance as to the correct approach to deliver the best outcome. This requires a thorough knowledge of both the theoretical and practical matter at-hand, a determination of any vulnerabilities, and anticipating opposing counsel’s strategies.

Part of this process often involves rebutting opposing expert analyses.

Koss said what she enjoys the most “is the variety of our projects from the different types of litigation matters to the various companies and industries involved.”

Koss is one of a few women in the metropolitan Detroit area who testifies as an expert witness in these cases.

“I enjoy the challenge,” she said. “I must present my conclusions in a manner that is both compelling and easily understood by a judge or jury. This can be a very challenging task since I’m usually extracting and interpreting relevant data from large volumes of information that can result in a very complex, financial analysis. I then convey my conclusions and opinions to others in a clear and concise manner. Although challenging, I find the work extremely rewarding.”

Koss, who joined the firm in 2001, also provides business valuations and forensic accounting services, usually for purposes of a significant one-time event such as a partnership dispute, divorce or sale of a business.

“The companies are often family owned. Using my valuation expertise and training, along with multiple years of working for a family-owned company, I understand how family dynamics can impact a company and its value,” she said. “Disputes often arise because people don’t know all the facts. As with much of my work, it’s of great importance to see beyond just the numbers.”

Before joining O’Keefe, Koss served as a division controller at a software company where she aided top management to formulate solutions to complex financial problems, and where her responsibilities included management of the daily accounting and operational functions.

She also has worked in the public accounting industry providing auditing and consulting services.

Koss is accredited by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) as a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) and has been awarded the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) and the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credentials by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

A member of the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA) and National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts, Koss earned her undergraduate degree in accounting, with departmental honors, from Oakland University, where she now serves on the accounting and finance advisory board.

“After taking my first accounting course, I realized I enjoyed the methodical and detail oriented aspects,” she said. “I’d always been one of those people who balanced their checkbook every month to the penny so I felt it was a natural fit for me. The consulting work I do now is very analytical and investigative in nature, which I find extremely interesting.”