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In Case You Hadn’t Heard…..Tis the Season

December 12th, 2011 by Rebekah Smith

I teach classes each year to other CPAs and financial experts who want to either develop an economic damages practice or deepen their knowledge in the field.  Last week I was in Fort Lauderdale teaching an Advanced Economic and Intellectual Property Damages class.  Because it’s an advanced class, the students usually have varying degrees of experience and specialization but generally most are pretty experienced.  Therefore I usually run this course more like a roundtable open forum (which is why it is one my favorite classes to teach).  The class I had in Fort Lauderdale ranged from completely inexperienced (starting a brand new practice) to very experienced (30+ years in practice).

There was an ex-professor (let’s just call him “The Professor”) in the class who has decided to change the direction of his accounting practice and specialize in economic damages.  Being a professor, he clearly values an education and has spent the last year getting a great deal of training in valuation and economic damages (weeks and weeks).  He has also been meeting with attorneys and other experts to gain a full understanding of the industry he is joining.  I really admired his thoughtful and deliberate process for entry into the litigation consulting field and the fact he was determined to ensure that before he ever accepted his first case, he was completely ready.

Now, sometimes when you get a bunch of very experienced people in a room, there is, on occasion, a bit of one-up-manship that occurs.  You know, the “I’m the best expert and I’ve only worked on the best cases and only had amazing outcomes.”  But with my class last week, some really amazing things began to happen as class progressed…

Now, I don’t know if it’s just because it’s the holiday season, but the more experienced people in the class began to share their experiences (and not just the good ones mind you, the ones that you learn the most from – the BIG mistakes) with The Professor.  They gave him practice development advice, billing advice, engagement letter and fee structure advice, as well as lots of technical advice.  It was really impressive how these very experienced practitioners opened up and shared the good, the bad and the ugly.  What really works, what doesn’t work and what to avoid (i.e. You should run screaming from certain types of situations!).

At the end of the three days, The Professor told me it was one of the best classes he had attended to date.  I don’t attribute that to my teaching.  I attribute that to the generosity of all the other participants in the class who opened up, spent extra time at lunch, or over drinks in the evening imparting all their experiences on The Professor.  And upon reflecting, haven’t we all had someone who has gone a little bit further, shared more with us, and it’s made all the difference?  I have been lucky enough to have had several of those people in my career (you know who you are…thank you!)

So remember….Tis the Season for Sharing!


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