Litigation and the Role of a Forensic Accountant


Attorneys across the globe turn to forensic accountants and their expertise to assist in their efforts as they navigate their clients’ legal disputes and potential litigation. Often called upon either before litigation or during litigation, forensic accountants are tasked with the role of lending their specialized understanding and knowledge of financial issues as they relate to the case at hand. The reality is that litigation is costly for an organization, whether that organization is a small family business or a big corporation. As a result, being proactive to avoid spending outrageous amounts of money during the process is imperative. One of the most strategic and successful ways of minimizing costs lies in hiring a forensic accountant early on in the litigation process.

A forensic accountant has the unique ability to bring a sense of clarity to some of the most complex cases. In most scenarios, the forensic accountant is called upon to serve as either a consultant or an expert witness. In either case, forensic accounting is instrumental in providing an in-depth analysis and review of things like financial reporting systems, auditing and accounting standards, investigative techniques, evidence collection, discovery processes, and general litigation strategy. The ability to lean on a forensic accountant’s expertise when it comes to things like calculating potential damages and crafting a rebuttal of the opposing party is central to a successful legal outcome.

A litigation team will likely request the specialty skills of a forensic accountant in the following scenarios:

  • Pre-Discovery: the initial stages of litigation are an important time when counsel is deciding whether or not to move forward with litigation. Part of this consideration hinges on the estimation of potential damages. As such, a forensic accountant is often brought on to guide counsel in determining a potential damages assessment as well as offering unbiased perspective on the case as a whole. In addition, litigation strategy is often unearthed during this phase as a result of the forensic accountant’s findings.
  • Discovery: offering assistance to counsel during the gathering of evidence, forensic accounting helps to identify critical information, calculate damages, provide guidance during depositions, and analyze prospective strategies of the opposing party.
  • Expert Witness: in the case that settlement is not possible, the case will go to trial and this is where the forensic accountant really shines. From an independent calculation of damages to educating counsel for deposition preparation, the role of the expert witness is essential to the litigation process.

With complex legal matters at hand, the role of the forensic accountant in litigation is truly fundamental in bringing about a fair conclusion to the case. Utilizing their multitude of financial and accounting expertise, forensic accountants save companies money and greatly improve strategy during complicated legal issues. At Ellrich, Neal, Smith & Stohlman, P.A., our firm’s litigation services department provides professional services to participants in the legal process. These services include forensic accounting, fraud detection and prevention, assistance with discovery matters, consultation, and expert witness testimony. We provide litigation services in both federal and state courts in a wide variety of cases including brokerage fraud, shareholder disputes, class action litigation, personal injury, marital dissolution, contract claims, business damages, lost profits, business and contract disputes and criminal cases. Contact our offices today to learn more!

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