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Maintaining Privilege in a Forensic Accounting Engagement

  Sherry Rahbar, Partner, CFO Edge, LLC  
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  Article Summary  
Within the accounting profession, forensic accounting is one of the fastest growing areas, and it is more important than ever to understand the why's and how's of maintaining privilege in a forensic accounting engagement.

Generally attorney-client privilege does not extend to a forensic accountant who is a consulting expert or a testifying expert in court, and the statutory basis for attorney work-product protection generally does not exist for accountant work-product protection.

But there are circumstances in which privilege and protection can be extended to a forensic accountant.

Discussed are five criteria that - when met - position a forensic accountant as an extension of a law firm, as well as characteristics that differentiate a testifying expert from a consulting expert and with how privilege is impacted with both.

Severe consequences can occur when attorney-client privilege is not maintained in a forensic accounting engagement, and a CFO services professional with proven forensic accounting experience can help ensure the right steps are being taken to maintain privilege.

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