The Natural Affinity of Law and Accounting
by JOHN W. QUEENAN Partner, Executive Office
Presented before Joint Meeting of the Oregon Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Multnomah County Bar Association, Portland, Oregon—April 1962
COÖPERATION, TEAMWORK, AND NEGOTIATION are the methods by which our society has been able to achieve rapid scientific, social, political, and economic advancement. The professions of law and accounting are demonstrating that they, too, have adopted such measures in order to render improved services to their clients and to the public in general.
I have had an unusual opportunity to study the relations between our two professions. As co-chairman of the National Conference of Lawyers and Certified Public Accountants I have had the privilege of working closely with distinguished members of the American Bar, such as Judge William J. Jameson, a past president of the American Bar Association, and Dean Erwin N. Griswold of the Harvard Law School, both of whom have served as my fellow conference co-chairmen.
We have had many long talks about how lawyers and CPAs can work together for the great advantage of their common clients. I am convinced that no two professions have a greater natural affinity than these two. I also am convinced that no professions have a greater opportunity for growth and useful service in the expanding U. S. economy, and I believe that their growth and opportunities will be the greater if they work closely together than if they do not.
Accounting is essentially the measurement and communication of financial and other economic data. But the financial and economic data that have to be measured and communicated are largely determined
by legal processes. They include titles to property, contracts, and rights and obligations of all sorts that are determined by the law.
CPAs accept these legal determinations. This is where they start. If there is any question about the validity of a legal instrument, or a legal structure, the CPA will not attempt to resolve it. He will require an opinion of competent legal counsel on the basic questions before attempting to determine how the economic right or obligation should be treated from the accounting point of view. Consequently, CPAs are constantly raising questions with their clients that require consultation
with, and advice of, lawyers.