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Basics of Accounting for Lawyers 2014: What Every Practicing Lawyer Needs to Know

Author(s): John J. Molenda, Curtis Burr, Colleen Vallen, Lawrence M. Cirelli, Jeannie Y. Evans, Chetan Joshi
Practice Area: Accounting, Corporate & Securities, Litigation
Published: May 2014
PLI Item #: 51564
CHB Spine #: B2105

Colleen is a partner in the firm’s Valuation and Forensic Services practice and is based in the Philadelphia office. As an expert in the field of forensic and investigative accounting, Colleen has focused her attention on forensic and fraud investigations, the preparation of financial damage analysis and litigation support.

Colleen is highly experienced in the analysis, investigation and review of financial documents. Other responsibilities have included case planning and management, financial and economic analysis, expert report preparation, oral presentation of findings as well as assistance with discovery, interrogatories and depositions.

Prior to joining the firm she worked for a litigation consulting and a forensic accounting firm and with a Big 4 accounting firm as an auditor.

Colleen is an adjunct professor at Villanova Law School. She has been engaged by law firms, legal, banking and utility associations, insurance companies, and other associations to speak on a variety of topics, including business interruption, financial document analysis and fraud. Colleen has also provided continuing education to attorneys and individuals through various seminars, including a full day class on fraud geared to the banking industry.

Colleen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Rutgers University. Her education has been supplemented by various continuing education courses with an emphasis on fraud investigation, forensic accounting, financial analysis and business interruption. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA).



Valuation and Forensic Services
Forensic Accounting
Economic Damage Analysis

Chet Joshi is with Ernst & Young and consults with clients on Technology Enablement services. This group provides an array of consulting services with a view towards improving the operating performance of internal corporate departments. His focus is on process improvements and the underlying data by identifying its source, staging area, or relevant analysis and turning it into useful information because data provides valuable insights when it is turned into information.


  • Chet has 25 years of diversified in-house and consulting experience providing services related accounting, tax, technology and data management.  He has focused much of his career in improvement of process, technology and controls and provided project management leadership. His strength is in combining the process and technology experience to elicit the right solution to create efficiency and value for business organizations. His deep experience in business process was strengthened by working on projects involving IT compliance audits, fraud investigations, and litigation support. His technology experience was built by designing and implementing solutions which created value based on good data governance principles.
  • He assists his clients in management of technology strategy and roadmaps, business transformations, including ERP implementations/upgrades or financial consolidation implementations, data management applications, and data retention to meet the needs of the internal corporate departments.
  • Chet serves on the AICPA’s National Accreditation Commission that identifies needs for new credentials offered by the AICPA and has previously served on the Forensic and Valuation Services annual conference committee.
  • His past service with PLI includes the team that designed the Pocket MBA: Finance for Lawyers program where he also served as a member of the Chicago Faculty.
  • Chet has served as also served in the capacity of an expert witness.

Clients served

  • Chet has served many clients on the roster of the Fortune 500 in providing diversified services such business process change, technology implementations, investigations, litigation, and analytics.
    • Oil and Gas
    • Forest Products
    • Financial Services
    • Insurance
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Diversified Global Conglomerates
    • Manufacturing

Education and certifications

  • Bachelor Science degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois – Chicago.
  • Master’s in Business Administration degree from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business.
  • Certified Public Accountant registered in the State of Illinois.
  • Additional certification in Information Technology (CITP).

John Molenda is co-chair of Steptoe's Healthcare & Life Sciences industry team and is based in Steptoe’s New York office. His practice focuses on patent litigation and counseling at the district court and appellate levels, as well as post-grant proceedings before the US Patent and Trademark Office. He represents clients across technologies, including biotherapeutics (biologics), pharmaceuticals (Hatch-Waxman), biochemical research tools, medical devices, computer software, genetically modified plants, polymers, and automotive parts.

Dr. Molenda's practice has recently focused  on the cutting-edge field of biologics litigation, including pre-litigation counseling and strategy concerning application of the Biologics Act to biotherapeutic development programs.  Dr. Molenda is currently coordinating the strategy for a global monoclonal antibody biosimilars program and previously co-led the legal aspects of an EPO biosimilars program. He speaks regularly on current issues impacting the Biologics Act, including appearances for Knowledge Congress, BIOTECanada, and Canaccord Genuity, and moderating webcasts for the Federal Circuit Bar Association.

Dr. Molenda’s appellate practice concentrates on patent appeals before the Federal Circuit, and his experience includes substantial involvement in numerous such appeals. He routinely advises clients on Federal Circuit practice and procedure, and has guest lectured on these topics at Fordham University School of Law. Dr. Molenda is an active member of the Federal Circuit community, and he currently serves as co-chair of the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s Rules Committee. Prior to private practice, he served as a Federal Circuit law clerk with the Honorable Alan D. Lourie.

Dr. Molenda’s district court practice includes all aspects of pre-trial and trial proceedings. He has played substantial roles in several trials, successfully led a court-ordered mediation, participated in numerous Markman-related proceedings, and managed all aspects of discovery. Dr. Molenda speaks regularly about current legal issues in patent litigation, including serving as a co-chair of PLI’s Fundamentals of Patent Litigation 2014 program and moderating webcasts for the FCBA. He has also authored several articles concerning the Federal Circuit’s evolving law of claim construction.

Professional Affiliations

Federal Circuit Bar Association

Co-Chair, Rules Committee (December 2011-October 2014) Co-Chair, Legislation Committee (October 2008-October 2011)

Co-Vice-Chair, Patent Litigation Committee (October 2005-October 2008)

New York Intellectual Property Law Association New York State Bar Association


FCBA Legislation Committee Individual Leadership Award, 2011 FCBA Legislation Committee Leadership Award, 2011

Areas of Practice

Appellate & Supreme Court

Intellectual Property IP Litigation


Patent Litigation Patent Office Practice


The University of Michigan Law School, JD, 1998

New York University, Postdoctoral Research, 1995; Biochemistry

Vanderbilt University, PhD, 1994; Chemistry

Vanderbilt University, MS, 1994; Chemistry

Vanderbilt University, 1991; Chemistry and History, cum laude, with Honors in the College of Arts & Science

Bar & Court Admissions

New York

US Supreme Court

US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

US District Court for the Southern District of New York

US District Court for the Eastern District of New York

US Patent and Trademark Office

Curtis has over 25 years of business valuation and litigation consulting experience. Industries served include wine/vineyard industry, financial services, real estate, professional service firms, wholesale and retail, alternative energy and manufacturing. He has performed forensic investigations in connection with partner and partnership disputes, shareholder disputes, damage analysis involving breach of fiduciary duty claims in securities litigation; calculation of economic damages and lost profits in cases involving misappropriation of trade secrets, product liability claims and wrongful termination cases. He has consulted on and testified in a broad of cases involving:

  • Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
  • Breach of fiduciary duty actions against investment advisors
  • Economic damages and earning loss
  • Actions against professionals
  • Construction claims and damages
  • Disputes arising out of Buy/Sell agreements
  • Business acquisitions and valuation
  • Personal injury and wrongful death claims
  • Solvency and fraudulent conveyance issues

Education & Professional Credentials

  • Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration—Golden Gate University
  • MBA/Taxation — Golden Gate University
  • BA/Accounting — Golden Gate University
  • Certified Public Accountant, licensed in 1978 in California
  • Certified in Financial Forensics in 2008 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Professional Affiliations

  • Past Trustee and Chair — Board of Trustees, Golden Gate University
  • Board Chair — Rotary Foundation, San Francisco
  • Member Dean's Advisory Board — School of Accounting, and Golden Gate University
  • Co-Chair — PLI "Accounting for Lawyers"
  • Business Valuation instructor — Association of Insolvency Restructuring Advisors
  • Member — Association of Insolvency Restructuring Advisors
  • Member — American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Member — California Society of CPAs (CalCPA)
  • Member — National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA)

Larry is a trial lawyer and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. His practice focuses on complex business litigation, including disputes among shareholders, owners, officers and directors of companies, fiduciary duty, contracts, false advertising, trade secrets, non-competition agreements and unfair competition claims. He also represents clients in partnership and corporate dissolution actions. His experience as a certified public accountant brings a unique skill set and perspective to these types of matters. A significant part of his practice also involves the defense of consumer class actions. In addition, Larry handles professional liability and product liability litigation. He has tried numerous jury and court trials, as well as arbitrations, in a range of cases spanning business torts, commercial contracts, business dissolutions, real estate, insurance, professional liability and products liability.

Representative Work

Business Litigation

Successfully resolved during a long trial a breach of contract action against the State of California wherein plaintiff claimed $1.4 billion in damages.

Won a $4.3 million verdict and additional punitive damages on an interference with business relationship claim against a major advertising agency arising from the acquisition of a local company by the agency.

Obtained a defense verdict after a one-month trial of a multi-million dollar claim of business interruption involving a telecommunications equipment plant.

Won a large verdict against the former president of a company and his new employer for breach of fiduciary duty and violation of his non- competition agreement.

Obtained a large verdict on a lost corporate opportunity claim for a paving and grading contractor. Also successfully defended the stock and wrongful termination claims of a former vice president of the client.

Class Actions

Obtained decertification of a Rule 23(b)(3) damages class in a federal food labeling class action alleging unfair business practices, false advertising, and violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice at the pleading stage in a consolidated class action filed in federal court against California’s largest dairy cooperative alleging unfair business practices in connection with dairy product pricing.

Defeated class certification in an unfair business practices and false advertising case brought against a national retailer.

Business Owner Disputes

Successfully tried a dissolution action involving a real estate company resulting in the client receiving all of the funds in dispute from the partnership's capital account.

Successfully tried a dissolution action involving a family-owned construction supplies business. Won a large verdict in a shareholder dispute involving a medical practice.

Handled several dissolution actions under California Corporations Code section 2000 involving various businesses including a large family-owned consumer products manufacturer and a high-end grocery store.

Represented a founder of a publicly-traded internet company in a dispute over stock ownership.

Professional Liability

Served as an expert witness in a case arising out of an accounting malpractice action.

Won a $4.7 million verdict for an international mining company on a claim involving complex international tax issues. Achieved a favorable settlement after a three-month trial involving legal malpractice defense.

Defended a Big Four accounting firm in actions brought by a public entity arising out of that entity's financial crisis.

Products Liability

After a two-week trial, obtained a nonsuit for a gas manufacturer in a product liability case.

After a three-week trial, achieved a nonsuit for a welding products manufacturer in a case involving claims of alleged respiratory problem due to the inhalation of welding fumes.

Jeannie Evans is a seasoned trial lawyer and partner at Agrawal Evans LLP.  After beginning her career in securities litigation and other complex commercial litigation at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto and Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, Jeannie co-founded Agrawal Evans—a trial and appellate boutique firm headquartered in Chicago.  Jeannie represents leading U.S. corporations and professional firms, as well as their officers, directors, and partners, in high-stakes business disputes.  

Jeannie has successfully represented clients in multi-million and multi-billion dollar disputes in state and federal courts and arbitrations around the country. She brings broad experience in a variety of practice areas, including securities fraud, accounting fraud, shareholder disputes, government investigations, breach of contract, and bankruptcy litigation.  Jeannie regularly represents private equity firms, hedge fund managers and investors, and others in cases involving alleged financial misconduct.  She is particularly skilled at working with experts on cases with complex damages claims.

Prior Experience

Kirkland & Elllis LLP (Chicago)

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (Palo Alto)


Harvard Law School, J.D., 1997, cum laude
Executive Editor, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy
Federalist Society
Asia Law Society

Brigham Young University, B.A., Political Science, 1994 summa cum laude
University Honors
Ezra Taft Benson Scholar
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of International and Area Studies

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, summer 1997

Hon. Susan Illston, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, summer 2003







Notable Wins:

  • Represented private equity company and its portfolio hospital company in a $250 million theft of trade secret and corporate opportunity suit in Texas state court. Successfully defended clients from potentially onerous temporary injunction provisions that could have crippled the hospital chain’s operations and growth plans.
  • Defended large public corporation and its officers and directors from securities fraud claims following the company’s financial restatement. Devised winning defense to Section 11 claim seeking over $200 million in damages, prompting an unexpectedly favorable settlement.
  • Represented holder of debtor’s senior debt in federal bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware. After fast-tracked discovery and an evidentiary hearing, obtained plan confirmation over all objections. Elicited key deposition admissions from adverse expert witness, which led to a voluntary withdrawal of the expert’s report and the chief objection to the plan.
  • Defended General Motors in a shareholder derivative suit seeking to unwind GM’s $3 billion acquisition of AmeriCredit Corp. Authored winning motion to dismiss, which allowed the merger to proceed without disruption and avoided costly, burdensome discovery.
  • Represented corporate client in a DOJ merger investigation. Collaborated with client to successfully respond to demands for information and to resolve DOJ concerns.
  • Represented Tessera Technologies in a patent infringement action before the U.S. International Trade Commission, against Texas Instruments and Sharp Corporation for importing semiconductor devices in “chip scale packages” that infringed Tessera’s patents. Following a favorable ITC determination, Sharp and Texas Instruments settled and agreed to pay royalties to client.
  • Represented the City of Chicago before the Illinois Appellate Court. Prevailed in defending the City’s home-rule authority to enforce its condominium ordinance in the face of conflicting state statutes.
  • Represented pro bono client seeking custody of her granddaughter in a child dependency court bench trial in California.  Against the odds, prevailed in achieving custody for grandmother in the face of contrary recommendations by social worker and state district attorney.  Following Jeannie’s effective cross-examination of the state’s two lead witnesses, the Court immediately excused the remaining witnesses and ruled in favor of Jeannie’s client from the bench.