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The Top 10 Things Attorneys Look For In Selecting An Accounting Expert Witness

Thomas A. French

The need for forensic accounting in litigation has grown dramatically over the past twenty years. With that need has come a better definition of the qualifications an attorney seeks in selecting the expert he or she will rely on to investigate complex accounting, financial and commercial issues and present them in a comprehensible manner which is fully and properly supported. And, with the strict requirements now imposed on expert testimony, it is imperative that a forensic accountant be able to withstand any attack on his qualifications or methodology.

Rhoads & Sinon Senior Litigation Partner Thomas A. French discussed these issues at a recent meeting of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Forensic Accounting and Litigation Services Committee.

Mr. French has over twenty years experience handling complex commercial litigation involving lost profit projections, business valuations, and reconstruction of financial and other records in a variety of industries. He has also represented accountants, attorneys and others in professional liability disputes and has extensive experience in selecting, qualifying and utilizing accounting professionals as expert witnesses.

Mr. French's list of “Top Ten Things Litigators Look For When Selecting An Accounting Expert Witness” is set forth below. Mr. French has authored a more detailed article on this subject, which is available on request. 

TOP 10 THINGS ATTORNEYS LOOK FOR IN SELECTING AN ACCOUNTING EXPERT WITNESS

  1. Does the witness possess the necessary credentials to qualify to testify as an expert?
  2. Does the witness have experience that is meaningful to the fact finder?
  3. Does the witness have experience in the relevant industry?
  4. Does the witness possess the ability to teach, communicate, and handle cross examination? (Does he have a personality?)
  5. Is the expert able to “litigate”?
  6. Does the expert know the pitfalls of the litigation process?
  7. Will the expert pay attention to detail?
  8. Does the expert's team have advanced computer skills?
  9. Is the expert truly independent?
  10. Does the expert know the rules for admissibility of expert testimony?

Should you have any questions, or if you would like a copy of Mr. French's article, he can be reached at Rhoads & Sinon LLP, One South Market Square, 12 th Floor, P.O. Box 1146, Harrisburg , PA 17108-1146 ; phone: (717) 233-5731; e-mail: tfrench@rhoads-sinon.com.