Audit Letters

* Wait, auditors agree that auditor letters are pretty much a waste of time, but they still want them anyway? As I learned in Civ: “The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency.” [Going Concern]

* Yes, the legal world is still buzzing because one of the nine most powerful people in America deigned to utter a few words in court. I hope Justice Thomas appreciates that his obituary is going to prominently include references to his confirmation hearings and his well-documented muteness. [ZombieLaw]

* This Die Hard director picked a bad day to try hard to stay out of jail. [Hollwyood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

* You know, there are laws against firing pregnant people. [Pregnant and Fired]

* Bottom line, I don’t want to be on the side of praising SEC enforcement actions. [National Law Journal]

* I hope Obama is well armed, because the only thing that stops a politician in the pocket of the gun lobby are the people holding their votes to the heads of their Congressmen. [Blog Briefing Room / The Hill]

* Same-sex marriage should be legal because gay people should be allowed to save money too. [The Atlantic]

When I worked at a law firm, I knew that lawyers’ responses to audit letters — in which the firm confirms to auditors the status of litigation pending against a client — were a massive waste of time.

Firm policy dictated that we would speak only pablum in response to audit letters. We would identify each case by name, court, and number; explain that a complaint had been filed; list the causes of action; say where we stood in discovery and whether a trial date had been set; and then say that we didn’t have a clue who would win. (If we thought that the client’s chance of losing was either “probable” or “remote,” we were required to say so. I’m not sure we ever saw such a case.)

Every once in a while, a junior associate would receive an audit letter and write a real response to it — analyzing the lawsuit, the tactics, and who would win. When the powers that be learned about that mistake, there’d be hell to pay: “How could you write those things? Didn’t you run this past an audit letter review partner? We don’t actually provide information in those responses, you fool! Never do this again!”

As a partner at a firm, I knew that responding to audit letters was an expensive nuisance: A full-time audit letter assistant cranked out first drafts of responses to the letters. (That’s all she did, eight hours per day, 52 weeks per year — honest.) The appropriate client relationship partner reviewed each draft. An “audit letter review partner” (I had the misfortune to be one of those for four or five years) took another pass at the thing. Only then — after the letter had been stripped of all content — did the response go out the door. That was an awful lot of time and money invested to insure that the firm didn’t accidentally say something.

But I always assumed that someone — the client, the auditors, someone — thought those ridiculous letters served a purpose. Now I’ve gone in-house, and it turns out that audit letters serve no purpose at all. . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Stop The Audit Letter Lunacy!”