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Basics of Accounting for Lawyers 2019

Author(s): John J. Molenda, Colleen S. Vallen, Tim Sherman, Lawrence M. Cirelli, Chetan Joshi, Margaret G. Nelson
Practice Area: Accounting, Corporate & Securities, Litigation
Published: May 2019
ISBN: 9781402434105
PLI Item #: 252436
CHB Spine #: B2493

Lawrence M. Cirelli 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, professional liability, 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. Larry 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, environmental, professional liability and products liability.


•  Chet Joshi is a Senior Manager in Ernst & Young’s Tax Technology & Transformation group. This group of professionals provides an array of tax function consulting services to improve the operating performance of corporate tax departments. His focus is on data and the underlying processes that create it, whether at source, staging, or analysis stages, so it can be turned into useful information - when data is turned into information provides valuable insights about the business.


•  Chet has over 25 years of diversified accounting, tax, technology, business process, and data management experience and has focused much of his career in improvement of tax process, technology and controls, including responsibility of technology related project management. He combines process and technology experience to elicit the best solution, and often a right one, that creates value for business organizations. His deep experience in business process was strengthened by working on projects involving IT compliance audits, accounting/fraud investigations, and litigation support. His technology experience was built by designing and implementing solutions resulting in enterprise value based on data governance principles.

•  Chet assists his clients in management of tax technology strategy & roadmaps, business transformations including technology for ERP implementations/upgrades or financial consolidation implementations, tax data management applications, and tax data retention projects to meet the needs of the Tax function.

•  Moreover, Chet has extensive experience steeped in accounting and finance business processes from conducting financial investigations, which included IT data governance, compliance  principles and forensic technology. Additionally, such project require a deep knowledge of accounting and finance business processes to understand how underlying data is created in financial systems.

Clients served

•  Chet has served many multi-national, and domestic, Fortune 500 clients in providing diversified services such business process change, technology implementations, investigations, litigation, and analytics. Below is a sample of industry experience:

•  Manufacturing

•  Automotive

•  Financial Services

•  Diversified Global Conglomerate 

•  Insurance

•  Pharmaceutical

•  Forest Products

•  Oil & Gas

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.

John Molenda is co-chair of Steptoe's Healthcare & Life Sciences Industry Practice, is head of the Intellectual Property Practice for the New York office, and has served on the firm's Executive Committee. He focuses on patent litigation at the district court and appellate levels, opinions of counsel, due diligence, and post-grant proceedings, including inter partes reviews (IPRs) and reexaminations. He represents clients across technologies, including biotherapeutics (biologics), pharmaceuticals (Hatch-Waxman), biochemical research tools, genetically modified plants, medical devices, semiconductors, fiber optics, and computer software.

With respect to John’s appellate practice, he litigates regularly in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, including briefing, oral argument, and complex motion practice. He has held substantial roles in over 20 Federal Circuit appeals, including arguing one of the first pharmaceutical-related IPR appeals. John is active in the Federal Circuit community, currently serving as a Vice Chair of the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s Bench & Bar Planning Committee. He has previously held leadership roles on the FCBA’s Patent Litigation, Legislation, and Rules Committees. Prior to private practice, he served as a Federal Circuit law clerk for the Honorable Alan D. Lourie.

With respect to his district court and IPR practices, John has served as lead or co-lead counsel in district court litigations across the United States and has played key roles in multiple trials, mediations, and Markman proceedings. At the same time, John routinely counsels clients on the strategic use of IPRs as part of litigation and settlement strategy, and has served as lead counsel in numerous IPR proceedings on behalf of both petitioners and patent owners. John has served as co-chair of PLI’s Fundamentals of Patent Litigation program since 2014 and speaks regularly about current topics and trends in IPR practice.

While John’s work encompasses a wide range of technologies, he has developed a particular expertise in the area of biologics and biosimilars. He currently represents two pharmaceutical companies in a case involving blockbuster biologics to lower cholesterol and is coordinating pre-litigation strategy and counseling for a global biosimilars program involving high-value monoclonal antibody and cytokine products. John has also led biologics teams conducting transaction-related diligence and pre-petition diligence in advance of IPR filings. He speaks frequently on recent developments involving biologics and biosimilars for organizations including ACI, World Congress, Knowledge Group, BIOTECanada, Canaccord Genuity, and the FCBA.

Margaret Gembala Nelson is of counsel with Foley & Lardner LLP, where she represents accounting firms, financial service entities, corporations and their professionals in auditor liability matters, government enforcement investigations and examinations, and complex securities and business litigation. She also conducts internal investigations on behalf of clients and advises on regulatory compliance and risk management issues.

Ms. Nelson has more than 15 years of experience as a regulatory and litigation lawyer focusing on complex securities, accounting, compliance and commercial matters.

Prior to joining Foley, Ms. Nelson spent over five years as assistant general counsel for the accounting firm RSM US LLP, formerly McGladrey LLP, where she oversaw all of the firm’s regulatory matters and much of its litigation across all business lines. In this role, she regularly interacted with the SEC, PCAOB, Department of Justice, CFTC, FDIC, Department of Labor, FINRA and various state agencies in connection with regulatory inquiries, investigations and actions. Additionally, she routinely advised the firm on compliance, risk management and inspection issues, gaining significant insight into the legal issues confronting the accounting industry.

Before RSM, Ms. Nelson worked at the SEC’s Chicago Regional Office for nine years as senior counsel. While there, she spearheaded numerous high-profile investigations and litigation involving a wide array of securities issues, including financial fraud, offering fraud, registration violations, broker-dealer misconduct, advisory conflicts of interest and insider trading, and often coordinated parallel investigations with other federal and state agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, FINRA and the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Ms. Nelson was also a member of the Asset Management Unit, a national specialized unit within the SEC’s Enforcement Division that focuses on issues relating to investment advisers, investment companies and private funds.

Following law school, Ms. Nelson served as judicial clerk to the Honorable Jerome Turner of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee. She also worked for a leading Chicago law firm focusing on complex commercial and securities litigation.


Ms. Nelson earned multiple awards during her time with the SEC, including the Chairman’s Award for Excellence and several Division of Enforcement Director’s Awards and Special Act Awards.


Ms. Nelson earned her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 1999), where she was elected to the Order of the Coif and was editor-in-chief of The Elder Law Journal. She received her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (B.S., with high honors, 1992).

Admissions and Professional Memberships

Ms. Nelson is admitted to practice in Illinois. She is a member of the Association of SEC Alumni (ASECA).

Tim Sherman has nearly twenty years of experience applying accounting, financial, and economic principles in various dispute and non-dispute contexts.  He has performed valuations, calculated damages, and analyzed complex accounting issues in a variety of industries, including entertainment, technology, financial services, and aerospace.   He has managed large teams for litigation and investigation related projects.  Mr. Sherman’s work has involved writing expert reports pursuant to FRCP Rule 26, preparing complex damage schedules, assisting with discovery (e.g., document requests and depositions), and preparing for trial.  Mr. Sherman’s experience includes:

  • Investigating misstatements in publicly filed financial statements and determining the impact of misstatements on previously issued financial statements.
  • Calculating damages and identifying and interpreting accounting guidance related to inventory valuation in a dispute regarding the price paid in a business acquisition.
  • Evaluating auditor compliance with generally accepted auditing standards related to the recognition of fictitious revenues and cash balances.
  • Calculating lost profits and reasonable royalties in multiple patent infringement disputes.


  • B.A., Pomona College
  • M.B.A., the Stern School of Business at New York University

Professional Designations

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - California
  • Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) - AICPA

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).