Sidley has significant experience representing accounting and professional services firms in litigation and regulatory matters, as well as government investigations. Sidley regularly represents three of the “Big Four” and one of the next largest domestic firms in professional liability litigation, securities litigation and government and regulatory investigations.
With highly skilled and experienced lawyers in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., we are able to provide efficient and comprehensive assistance in matters arising all over the country. Each of the more than two dozen partners in our Accountants/Professional Service Firms Liability practice has many years of experience regularly representing accounting firms and individual accountants, and our lawyers have represented accountants and accounting firms in matters in at least 38 states. In addition, we have extensive international experience, representing foreign firms in matters pending within the United States and assisting those clients in matters pending outside the United States.
Lawyers from our various offices work together to provide seamless client service, particularly when accounting firms face broader issues that affect several of their clients or that span multiple jurisdictions. For example, our lawyers recently have assisted clients in widespread inquiries into stock option dating practices. We also have assisted our clients in responding to issues broadly affecting an entire industry, such as the sub-prime mortgage lending industry.
Our experience translates into a deep understanding of our clients and the profession. We have obtained a detailed knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, as well as a comprehensive understanding of how audit teams plan, conduct and document their audit work, the respective roles of management, audit committees and auditors in the financial reporting process, how audit firms manage their practices and strive to provide high quality professional services and how professional standards intersect with various federal and state laws, including the reforms enacted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
We also understand the world in which our clients operate. We have a thorough understanding of the dynamics of the relationships between accounting firms and their regulators, including the SEC and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). We also have a detailed appreciation of the nuances of the relationships between accounting firms and their clients, especially in challenging circumstances, such as when a client faces a potential restatement or the auditor encounters a situation that may implicate obligations under Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
We bring all of Sidley’s vast resources to bear on issues facing our clients. Our discovery capabilities allow us to assist our clients in meeting the obligation to preserve, collect and produce documents in an appropriate manner, whether our clients are parties to a litigation matter, subject to a government inquiry or simply served with a non-party subpoena. In addition to representing clients in litigation and regulatory matters, we advise our clients on employment issues and matters of corporate structure, further enhancing our understanding of each client’s business needs.
Our thorough understanding of how accounting firms are organized, how they perform and document their work and how they deal with their clients’ management – both before and after a crisis – allows us to provide an early and thoughtful assessment of any matter, often before any litigation has been filed. We deal with matters that have multiple fronts. A single negligence case brought by an accounting firm’s former client requires a different strategy than a situation involving shareholder litigation, opt-out suits, a negligence suit from a liquidating trustee and an SEC investigation. Some cases require years of discovery and a trial on the merits, and we are fully equipped to handle such cases. Other cases can be resolved by an early, targeted dispositive motion, either at the very outset or after targeted discovery. Still other cases can benefit from early settlement discussions. Our experience allows us to advise as to the best course before too many costs are incurred, often yielding better results for our clients.