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How to Select the Best Accounting Expert Witness

Expert witnesses with a background of accounting are needed when the issue in the courtroom deals with numbers, financial information and accounts at a company or small business. However, selecting the best professional for the entity is important so that the relationship between client, lawyer and expert are in sync for a more beneficial association.

Complex financial matters in litigation are often what require the use and hire of an expert witness with an accounting background. These professionals with skills and training or have been an accountant previously are essential to claims with finances. Knowing what balance sheets, corporate accounts, personnel income statements, client relationship accounts and similar items with a business entity mean and how they work are all what an accounting expert witness knows and is familiar with. The best accounting expert witnesses are able to communicate with the lawyer and client effectively, know how to explain the details of the claim and what to say to the judge or jury during presentation of testimony and evidence.

Better accounting expert witnesses have a range of specializations, qualifications through certification, a background in accounting or similar
professions and the know how for court cases. These professionals must possess the qualities to explain the evidence, connect it to the defendant or plaintiff and provide confidence in what he or she says. Knowing how accounting books work and detailing the more confusing aspects of what an accountant does helps this process. While the issues that an accounting expert witness may perform for a claim may range greatly, he or she may be hired for a business or personal matter.

Duties of an Accounting Expert Witness

When a witness has been hired for expert testimony, he or she usually performs various other duties that are directly related to the claim or case as well. For an accounting professional, this ay include accounting itself and auditing of books. He or she may also discover errors or irregularities that are either deliberate or accidental. Fraud investigations are a primary concern with businesses that have engaged in illegal activities. These are prevalent in small businesses and corporations attempting to increase revenue or that are hiding other actions that have coincided with the fraud. Fraud is a commonplace crime that is found often when an audit is needed.

Disputes of varying types to include contract issues are discovered by accounting expert witnesses. Due diligence should be performed by an accounting, tax and legal professional before certain activities such as a purchase of a business. Operating procedures in a company or practice are performed by these experts. Valuation, investment disputes and regulatory issues are all usual actions that necessitate an accountant or accounting professional. He or she may research and determine the actual value of a business, discover what regulations are violated by a company and if there are invalid or problems with investment accounts.

Selection Process

Once the lawyer has established the specialization needed, the characteristics he or she is looking for and what qualities the expert should possess, it is time to select the best accounting expert witness for the case. This involves several interviews for different professionals. The best match will work with the lawyer, keep communication open and constant and fit into the claim. Developing a strong relationship for the case is also important. It may present the opportunity to call upon the same expert in the future, and it will help the lawyer and expert progress through the immediate concerns until the conclusion and a decision has been acquired.

Depending on the specific issue in the courtroom, the account expert witness may need to provide a report that is given to the judge and lawyer about the evidence, opinions, methods used, visual aids and connecting evidence to the scene, plaintiff or defendant. This requires knowing as much about the circumstances as possible and working with the lawyer to become aware of other issues that may only revolve around the legal world.

Expert Testimony in Accounting Cases

Selection is often the most difficult part of hiring an expert witness. However, the person that is eventually hired must present testimony in the courtroom and with the judge. This requires someone that has experience or is able to learn fast. He or she must be able to communicate effectively and with charm. These persons may be disqualified during the interview process through natural communication. However, once the right person has been selected, he or she may need additional coaching.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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