Alternative Dispute Resolution for CPAs

Article excerpt

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION FOR CPAS

By James John Jurinski, JD, CPA American Management Association, $171 ($139 for AICPA members)

Review by Philip Zimmerman, CPA

Whether in public practice or industry, CPAs are accustomed to hearing about disputes with employees, customers, and suppliers. Opportunity costs-those incurred through time-consuming litigation or through loss of valuable, long-term relationships with clients or suppliers enmeshed in litigation-can be even greater than the cash costs.

The AICPA and the American Management Association have developed a self study course designed to help CPAs understand the inner workings of alternative dispute resolution. Author James John Jurinski is a tax and business law professor and a mediator and arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). He also maintains a law practice in Portland, Ore.

The book is a complete, understandable, and sensible course on almost everything a CPA needs to know about mediation and arbitration as distinct processes in relation to litigation. The book contains much to recommend it but lacks a discussion of the principles and good practices of negotiation and the specifics on the practice opportunities for CPAs as neutrals in negotiations.

The fastest and least costly way to resolve a dispute-even more so than mediation-is negotiation. Even CPAs comfortable with negotiation would benefit from an explanation of better negotiation techniques, such as is found in Fisher and Ury's Getting to Yes or "The CPA Negotiator: The Next Step" by Hanan Isaacs, Esq. (The CPA Journal, September 1999).

A new chapter on the CPA as a neutral would encourage CPAs, who as Jurinski says, have the most important qualities of a good mediator-"integrity and the ability to instill confidence in the participants"-to become more involved in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings. …