Schedule a CLE
Veritas connects with law firms around the country providing CLE programs on the basics of accounting, finance and economics to young associates. When we ask law firm partners “do you wish your associates knew more about accounting, finance, and economics?” they always say yes! We provide lunch hour, half-day, and full day CLEs at cost. Contact j.w.verret@VeritasFinancialAnalyticsLLC.com to schedule a CLE.
Our CLE programs on accounting, finance and economics were profiled in Above the Law, see interview with Above the Law founder David Lat below (and available here).
ABOVE THE LAW
Educating Associates In Finance And Accounting (And Offering Expert Witnesses Too)
Are you an associate seeking to improve your knowledge of finance and accounting, or a partner looking to educate your associates about these subjects? Train up with this expert boot camp.
By DAVID LAT
Feb 8, 2019 at 12:33 PM
Many Biglaw associates, and even some partners, are woefully undereducated about finance and accounting — even though they frequently work on cases and deals requiring at least a working understanding of these fields. If you’re litigating a billion-dollar lawsuit or closing a major M&A transaction, you really should be able to read a balance sheet, analyze an income statement, and understand generally accepted accounting principles. But many associates, especially those coming from a liberal-arts background, don’t possess these skills. (I know this firsthand, as a former English major who wound up working at Wachtell Lipton.)
Are you an associate seeking to improve your knowledge of finance and accounting, or a partner looking to educate your associates about these subjects? Here’s someone who can help.
Meet J.W. Verret, a professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School who teaches and writes in the areas of corporate and securities law, banking law, law and economics, and related fields. He’s not only a law professor, but also a financial accountant who teaches Accounting and Finance for Lawyers to law students.
Before entering academia, Verret clerked for the Delaware Court of Chancery and practiced in the SEC Enforcement Defense Practice Group at Skadden Arps in Washington. He’s a leading expert on law and finance, who has been quoted on these subjects in numerous national publications and testified before Congress on a dozen occasions — and he previously worked on Capitol Hill himself, as the Chief Economist of the House Financial Services Committee.
Professor Verret has been sharing his extensive expertise widely within the world of Biglaw, offering workshops at law firms around the country for lawyers interested in educating themselves about finance and accounting. He’s offering these boot camps practically for free — and you can email him if you’d like to learn more about bringing him to your firm.
Does this sound too good to be true? As it turns out, Verret does have a motive for doing this (beyond the goodness of his heart and his love of teaching). He’s found that giving these workshops is a great business-development tool for Veritas Financial Analytics LLC, his new expert-witness firm focused on corporate governance, economics, accounting, finance, and the fast-emerging field of ESG reporting (environment and social governance).
Veritas isn’t your standard expert-witness firm. It’s much smaller than many of its competitors, a boutique rather than a behemoth, and it was founded by academics. All of its experts hold tenure-track faculty appointments in their respective fields, and all are committed to producing expert-witness work that will hold up not just in court, but under academic scrutiny as well. This unusual background gives Veritas and its experts certain advantages.
“We have credibility, before both judges and juries,” Verret told me. “We’re going to be responsible within the academic community for any representations we make in court or in litigation. This disciplining mechanism keeps us focused on the integrity of our opinions.”
This credibility comes from their expertise as academics in their respective fields, reflected in their slew of advanced degrees — four of Veritas’s six experts hold PhDs — and lengthy lists of publications. Given their expertise, Veritas witnesses testify not just in litigation, but before regulatory bodies like the SEC and both houses of Congress.
“We are thoroughly steeped in the literature that’s going to be exhibit A in a lot of our cases,” Verret said. “Other experts might have a lot of knowledge and education as well, but they might not share our level of involvement in the cutting-edge research on economics, finance, and accounting.”
Litigators know that expert witnesses can make or break a case. I asked Verret for his advice on how to be a strong expert.
“The most important thing is to draft a careful, thoughtful, and thorough expert report,” he told me. “Then, during the deposition and at trial, stick closely to that report. If you’ve done your report in the right way, the answers to all the relevant questions should be in your report.”
“A deposition or trial is not the time to engage in a free-ranging academic debate with opposing counsel over the issues,” Verret emphasized. “Give brief answers, then reference your report.”
Outside of the courtroom or deposition room, however, Veritas’s experts are more than happy to analyze and debate complex issues. After all, they’re still academics. They were academics well before they were expert witnesses, and they remain academics after stepping down from the witness stand.
“At Veritas, we care about producing top-notch, academically defensible work product,” Verret said. “And we want to help clients who share that dedication.”