Making the Most of an Expert Witness

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gavel-moneyMore than ever, competent and dynamic expert witnesses are critical to winning legal cases. Even if a case doesn’t go to trial, a credible expert can be the key to settling the case for your client.

I believe that an expert witness has the opportunity to make or break a case. We all know that there are few chances to fix a bad opinion when you go to court. There is one chance to express the correct opinion and support it fully. A faulty opinion, or one with little reliable support, can doom a case.

Some attorneys have their preferred experts, while others get referrals from colleagues. Each attorney works with an expert witness in the way that she or he is comfortable. However, it never hurts to hear about it from the other side. This is my perspective on best utilizing your expert witness to her or his full value. Continue reading

What Types of Cases are Done By Forensic Accountants?

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Forensic accounting is sometimes called investigative accounting. There is a fairly wide variety of cases that can be done by a forensic accountant, with all of them having something to do with fraud or litigation. Tracy Coenen talks about some of the most common types of cases in which a forensic accountant will be called in.

Finding and Utilizing the Best Expert Witness

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More than ever, competent and dynamic expert witnesses are critical to winning legal cases. Even if a case doesn’t go to trial, a credible expert can be the key to settling the case for your client. I believe that an expert witness has the opportunity to make or break a case. We all know that there are few chances to fix a bad opinion when you go to court. There is one chance to express the correct opinion and support it fully. A faulty opinion, or one with little reliable support, can doom a case.

Some attorneys have their preferred experts, while others get referrals from colleagues. Each attorney works with an expert witness in the way that she or he is comfortable. However, it never hurts to hear about it from the other side. This is my perspective on best utilizing your expert witness to her or his full value.

Finding the Right Expert
The most critical part of working with an expert witness is finding the right one. Naturally, the selection of an expert involves the evaluation of education and credentials. The examination of an expert’s credentials is a particularly critical process. Continue reading

Expert Witnesses and Reliable Methods

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Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, an expert witness is required to use reliable principles and methods in coming to expert opinions. In this video, Tracy discusses the rule and how it might apply to a damage calculation done by an expert witness.

Lifestyle Analysis in Divorce Cases: Investigating Spending and Finding Hidden Income and Assets (Video)

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Tracy Coenen, author of “Lifestyle Analysis in Divorce Cases: Investigating Spending and Finding Hidden Income and Assets,” shares her insight on uncovering financial details to ensure that divorce settlements are fair and equitable. A forensic accountant and fraud investigator, Coenen wrote the book to arm lawyers with a powerful tool when valuing and dividing property in complex divorce cases.

Judges and Financial Issues

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How much does your judge really understand about financial issues? Will he or she be able to sort out cases with complex accounting and finance scenarios? Tracy Coenen and Miles Mason discuss how your expert witness can help the judge understand.

Why Retain a Forensic Accountant in Your Divorce Case?

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divorce financial analysisOne of the hot new things in the area of divorce, especially for high net worth clients, is using a law firm that has forensic accountants on staff. Sometimes the divorce attorneys themselves have credentials in the area of forensic accounting, such as a CPA license, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) credential, or CFF (Certified in Financial Forensics) credential.

These law firms tout a number of advantages of retaining them:

  • Expertise in financial matters, including business valuations, tax law, and forensic accounting
  • Ability to investigate the value of financial assets
  • Skills necessary to perform a lifestyle analysis Continue reading

The Forensic Accountant as Consultant

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Family Advocate – ABA Section of Family Law Magazine
Winter 2014

By Tracy L. Coenen

Download a pdf of this article here.

Forensic accountants are usually retained in family law cases as expert witnesses, with the intention that they will provide expert opinions and testimony on behalf of the client. Although retention as a consultant is less common, it is an important option to consider. Sometimes, the work of the consultant can be even more important than the work of the testifying expert. The consultant may be able to dig deeper into sensitive issues because there is no fear of testimony or of disclosing the consultant’s work.

Maintaining privilege
One of the biggest benefits to retaining a consultant is the fact that the consultant’s communications and work product enjoy privilege. Because the consultant is essentially an extension of the law firm, the identity of the consultant, the scope of work, the evidence examined, and the results of the work need not be disclosed to opposing counsel. (Note that documents examined by the consultant may very well need to be disclosed as part of the discovery process, but the consultant’s work or impressions of the documents should not be disclosed.) Continue reading