O'Keefe in the News

O’Keefe’s Missions & Visions with Vi Zdravkovic

O’Keefe’s Missions & Visions with Vi Zdravkovic

April 12, 2023

As published in Michigan Lawyers Weekly

Q. What is your area of  practice?
A. I am a financial consultant in the litigation support services group at O’Keefe. I specialize in the quantification of economic damages resulting from various forms
of disputes, developing case strategies, and evaluating settlement options to resolve the litigation. I also have extensive experience in fraud related issues including detection, investigation and quantification. Over the past 30 years, I have worked on over a hundred cases including breach of contract, lost profits, fraud examinations and forensic accounting investigations in a wide range of industries. I have also served on the board of a local non-profit as an Audit Chair. My forensic accounting experience enabled me to provide recommendations for improving the nonprofit’s policies and record keeping procedures to minimize the risk of loss. My other financial consulting experience includes mergers and acquisitions, business valuations, insolvency/bankruptcy and
turnaround management.

Q. How long have you been with the firm and can you offer an example of a success story?
A. I have been with O’Keefe approximately five years. An example of a great success story is my involvement in an employment litigation dispute. We represented two employees (Employee Defendants) and their newly formed company (Company Defendant) in a
lawsuit initiated by their former employer (Plaintiff) for allegedly violating the terms of their non-solicitation and non-compete provisions of their respective employment agreements. Plaintiff’s experts calculated damages resulting from lost profits and unjust enrichment. They also included the value of the Company Defendant as an additional component of damages. We found the Plaintiff’s experts ignored relevant information and committed numerous errors thereby significantly overstating the alleged damages.
O’Keefe provided a thorough analysis of the alleged damages by applying various methods, tasks and theories. As a result of our findings, the Defendants were able to settle the matter through mediation for an amount 90% less than the amount submitted by the Plaintiff’s damages experts. If that isn’t reason enough to call it a success, we commenced
our analysis right when COVID-19 shut down inperson work. We collaborated remotely to achieve a successful outcome for our clients.

Q. How would you describe your firm’s mission?
A. Our mission is, “When hands-on guidance and exceptional performance are a must, organizations turn to the experience of O’Keefe. We’re your partner for success. Our culture of collaboration and problem solving is unmatched. We craft solutions that produce impressive bottom-line results even in the most complex situations.” This mission is incorporated in our tagline Clarity.Results.Together.

Q. What is your firm’s greatest strength?
A. O’Keefe’s greatest strength is our team of experienced financial services professionals. They come from diverse backgrounds with extensive and specialized financial expertise in multiple service areas. This diverse range of experience, coupled with our smaller size, enables us to collaborate more effectively and efficiently to provide comprehensive solutions to our client’s most critical financial concerns. From a litigation perspective, we have a proven track record of analyzing and summarizing complex financial data to develop a clear, in-depth analysis supported by both fact and theory. We then communicate reasonable, accurate and defendable opinions on the economic damages involved in the matter. As a result, our clients have been more effective at case strategy and risk assessment, which has facilitated settlements with better than anticipated financial results.

Q. What areas do you see as having the most potential growth in 2023 and why?
A. I foresee the most potential growth to be in restructuring and turnaround services. We have experienced a long period of economic prosperity. When COVID-19 hit, many professional service firms were anticipating an increased need for restructuring and turnaround services and began hiring staff to fulfill the need for these services. However, that need did not pan out until last year when inflation and rising interest rates took effect. We are now starting to see the ramifications from the changing economic conditions with an increase in bankruptcy and receivership filings. In addition, automakers are gearing up to change from internal combustion engine vehicles to all electric. Suppliers who are not able to adapt with the changing times will experience financial difficulties requiring crisis management services. Other vulnerable areas include the cannabis industry due to oversupply, higher education due to declining enrollment and the hospitality industry due to workforce constraints.

Q. What do you see as the biggest challenge the business/legal profession will face over the next five years?
A. Talent recruitment and retention will continue to be a challenge. Although many other businesses/industries are also experiencing this challenge, it is especially difficult for professional service firms who do not sell a product. O’Keefe’s revenue is generated from the services we provide to clients; therefore, employees are our greatest assets. The financial strains caused by increases in higher education costs, along with inflation, will make obtaining a college degree out of reach for many people, thereby limiting the pool of available talent. And if your recruiting efforts are successful, you may not be able to retain the employees for various reasons including compensation, different generational cultural values, work life balance, remote work flexibility, etc.

Q. The local/legal community is well known for its commitment to “giving back.” What community/charity/pro bono work does your firm do that you are most proud of?
A. I am proud that O’Keefe believes in “giving back” by donating our time and resources collectively as a firm as well as personally to so many deserving organizations. I personally foster pets for Animal House of Southeast Michigan and Paws, Awes and Claws. As a firm, one of the many charities we support is Sleigh for Smiles. This incredible organization was
started by the nine-year-old child of one of my O’Keefe colleagues in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She used the money from her piggy bank, along with a small donation from her parents, to buy affordable toys to deliver to hospitalized children
in order to put “smiles” on their faces. Sleigh for Smiles has grown over the years and is now a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Every year, we support Old King Solomon Baptist Church with a warm Thanksgiving meal as well as new winter coats that we personally deliver for distribution. Other organizations our firm and professionals support include but are not limited to: Access to Bankruptcy Court, Winning Futures, and The DAC Foundation supporting initiatives in Detroit.

Q. What type of mentoring program(s) does your firm offer?
A. I believe everyone benefits from mentoring. At O’Keefe, we have professionals at various stages of their careers with experience in different service areas. We have an open-door policy where younger professionals can freely seek mentoring from any professional they choose for whatever guidance and support is needed, whether career-oriented or
personal. We also encourage them to accompany senior professionals at networking events so they can learn from our experiences and develop their own contacts. In addition, we employ high school and college interns to provide mentoring and support before they enter the workforce. I have been fortunate to work with many wonderful and knowledgeable professionals who have been very gracious with their time and expertise throughout my professional career. Mentoring is a great way for me to give back to the
next generation of professionals.

Q. What is unique about your firm’s culture? What sets you apart?
A. I love that we are a small firm that can provide tremendous resources for our clients. Our size allows us to be a close-knit group that works together as a team. We collaborate and draw from each other’s diverse range of professional expertise to find valueadded
solutions to achieve successful results for our clients. This unwavering commitment to our clients’ success and the communities they support enabled O’Keefe to be named as the top consulting firm by your readers in several categories including Best Litigation Consulting Services, Best Forensic Experts, Best Forensic Accounting Provider and Best Crisis Management Company for several years in a row.