Vedder Price provides a broad spectrum of legal services to accounting firms and accountants, including particular support for matters involving professional liability and risk management, corporate and structural issues, transactions, regulatory requirements, compliance with professional standards, interaction with governmental agencies, and employment arrangements and issues.
You can expect timely and practical advice concerning the various unique legal matters related to your practice. Our accounting law attorneys have helped shape many of the legal principles that affect the accounting profession. Our decades of experience in counseling accounting firms of all sizes, and our commitment to responding promptly to requests for assistance, help our clients minimize their risks and maximize their opportunities.
Broad accounting profession credentials. We advise and represent a significant number of accounting firms and individual accountants in a variety of matters related to conducting their practices.
Our attorneys understand the unique needs of the accounting profession and have long been advocates for it. We participate extensively in professional accounting organizations and societies and regularly speak and write on issues of importance to the profession.
A full range of legal services to support accounting firms. We help accounting firms manage their practices and comply with the rapidly changing laws and regulations governing professional competence, independence, integrity and structure.
Our attorneys have substantial accounting profession experience in these and other areas:
Litigation, including serving as defense counsel in litigations, arbitrations, disciplinary proceedings and enforcement proceedings involving accounting firms
Regulatory matters, including state accounting laws and regulations, PCAOB and SEC regulations and proceedings, securities law matters, and investigations and disciplinary proceedings before licensing authorities, the AICPA and state accounting societies
Corporate matters, including partnership and shareholder agreements, acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances, withdrawals and dissolutions
Risk management, including providing real-time advice regarding issues that arise in the daily practice of the accounting profession, advising on the terms and interpretations of professional liability insurance policies, and communicating with insurance companies with respect to claims and potential claims
Employment matters, including employment contracts, severance arrangements, anti-harassment training, office policies and procedures, and employment practices
Learn more about our areas of focus.
Our attorneys monitor continuously evolving accounting profession ethical standards and advise clients through a number of channels, including bulletins, newsletters and in-house seminars. We can advise your staff on application of those standards to specific practices, such as engagement letters and relationships that impair audit independence.
Our attorneys also have extensive experience representing accounting firms and accountants in disciplinary proceedings conducted by the AICPA, state CPA societies, state boards of accountancy and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We have defended accounting firms for more than 25 years, handling hundreds of professional liability claims, whether through litigation or alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Members of our Accounting Law group have extensive experience with both arbitration and mediation of accountants’ liability claims.
Our attorneys are not only experienced litigators; they also know and understand the unique legal principles under which accounting firms operate and the unique doctrines that apply to accountants’ liability cases, such as the privity doctrine, the application of comparative negligence, the operation of the statute of limitations and the continuous-representation doctrine, and the self-evaluation privilege. Indeed, in many cases, our attorneys have helped shape these principles through their many years of representing the profession. Our attorneys are also familiar with the emerging law on discovery of electronic documents and e-mail, which is of particular importance to the accounting profession due to its increasing use of electronic workpapers and cloud-based document storage.
In addition, our attorneys are deeply versed in professional liability insurance matters and have worked with virtually every insurer that has offered professional liability insurance to accounting firms. We are familiar with the litigation guidelines of malpractice insurers, accustomed to working with their claims departments and knowledgeable in matters related to court recognition of attorney-client privilege with respect to communications between attorneys and insurers.
Our attorneys’ experience and familiarity with both professional accounting standards and the legal principles applicable to the profession enable us to provide effective advice to clients when they are confronted with an emerging issue with legal implications arising, often on a time-sensitive basis, in the course of an engagement. Our ability to assist clients at the very moment they need us is invaluable in solving problems and minimizing risk.
We also counsel our clients on other risk management techniques, including engagement letters designed to take advantage of all the protections the law has to offer and intake procedures that can help weed out potential problem clients. We also advise clients who contract with third parties and, among other things, assist in drafting contract language to protect the accounting firm and assure compliance with data security statutes and regulations.
Our attorneys also advise accounting firms regularly on measures to take in such situations as the following:
- When a client threatens a claim
- When a firm receives a subpoena or demand for workpapers
- When a client declares bankruptcy or becomes the subject of a regulatory or criminal proceeding
- When the firm discovers it has committed an error and other similar situations
While most accounting firms purchase professional liability insurance to mitigate the impact of a liability claim, there are significant differences among available policies. Our attorneys advise accounting firms not only on the terms of available policies, but also on each insurer’s underwriting and claims philosophy—important factors in assessing insurance coverage. We can also advise on how to apply for insurance coverage and respond to questions that can impact availability or scope of coverage offered.
Combining corporate transaction skills with our understanding of accounting service models and the unique aspects of mergers in the accounting profession, we assist accounting firms in both sales and purchases of practices.
Our attorneys advise accounting firms on a variety of transactional matters, such as drafting partnership and shareholder agreements, including provisions addressing nonsolicitation; retirement and succession planning; and hiring and firing key personnel.
We also frequently assist with creating joint ventures that may involve providing services requiring experience not customarily found in an accounting firm. We have significant experience crafting such arrangements in a manner that does not breach ethical standards.
Finally, our attorneys have substantial experience with the emotionally charged negotiations surrounding firm dissolution or departures of key partners, enabling us to help the parties involved remain focused on the important business matters at hand.
Our employment law attorneys have unique experience advising accounting firms on the issues applicable to employing professionals at many levels in a firm. We can help you develop employment practices and procedures tailored to your firm.
We also provide accounting-firm-specific employment training, including training in anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. In addition, we provide advice regarding drafting and enforcement of noncompetition and nonsolicitation covenants.