Enron, Accounting and Lawyers

Matthew J. Barrett

Notre Dame Law School

Notre Dame Lawyer, pp. 14-20, Summer 2002

Enron's collapse painfully illustrates the importance of financial accounting to all lawyers. Accounting is often referred to as "the language of business." Virtually every lawyer represents businesses, their owners, or clients with adverse legal interests, such as creditors and customers. Especially after Enron, lawyers cannot competently represent clients if they do not grasp certain basic principles about accounting. This article lists the top ten accounting lessons that any lawyer could learn from the scandal. These lessons include the components of a complete set of financial statements, the choices inherent in generally accepted accounting principles, the distortions possible in pro forma reporting, auditor independence, related-party transactions, internal controls, revenue recognition, guarantees, the accounting for the issuance of shares, and professional responsibilities related to questionable accounting policies or practices.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 7

Keywords: Enron, cash flows, generally accepted accounting principles, pro forma financial statements, auditor independence, related-party transactions, internal controls, revenue recognition, guarantees, shareholders' equity, and professional responsibility

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K20, K22, K30, M40

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Date posted: August 16, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Barrett, Matthew J., Enron, Accounting and Lawyers. Notre Dame Lawyer, pp. 14-20, Summer 2002. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=782365

Contact Information

Matthew J. Barrett (Contact Author)
Notre Dame Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
574-631-8121 (Phone)
574-631-4197 (Fax)

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