An Experimental Investigation of the Efficacy of Lawyers' Letters
Posted: 16 Sep 2001
This experimental study investigates the efficacy of lawyers' letters in providing auditors with corroborating evidence about litigation contingencies. Fifty second- and third-year law students indicate their willingness to provide auditors with estimates of the likelihoods of unfavorable outcomes and potential damages for two realistic litigation cases. The findings indicate that (1) the potential loss of attorney-client privilege and (2) likelihoods of unfavorable litigation outcomes that approach auditors' lower bound for accrual both may inhibit lawyers' responses to auditors. Overall, these findings raise doubts about the efficacy of this widely utilized auditing procedure and lead to concerns about whether litigation contingencies and corresponding losses may be underreported in financial statements.
Keywords: Lawyers' letters; Contingent liabilities; Likelihood; Audit evidence
JEL Classification: M49, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation