Newsletter of the ABA Business Law Section Committee on
  Law and Accounting

2009 Annual Meeting
  Committee Meeting
  Committee Program
  Recent Meetings and Programs
  Committee Comment Letters

2009 ABA Annual Meeting
July 31 - August 3, 2009
Chicago, IL


In my last newsletter, I noted that perhaps more than at any time in recent memory, accounting issues have been at the forefront. "Mark-to-market" accounting, IFRS, and loss contingency disclosures have all been highly visible and often contentious issues in the legal, business and political spheres. I predicted that these issues would continue to be lively and controversial during the rest of this year. That seems to have been the case. Most recently, the Obama Administration's regulatory reform proposals specifically identified fair value accounting, loan loss provisioning and international standards convergence as three areas for focus during the rest of this year. Meanwhile, the subject of accounting regulation has heated up, with the Supreme's Court decision to rule on the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and ongoing concerns resulting from extraterritorial application of countries' accounting firm regulations.

We are looking forward to seeing you and engaging on these and other issues at the Business Law Section's Annual Meeting in Chicago. Please plan on attending our Committee meeting and programs. Here's a description of our planned activities in Chicago, as well as an update on some of the Committee's recent projects.

Committee Meeting
Our committee meeting is from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. CDT on Sunday, August 2, at the Sheraton Chicago, Colorado Room, Level 2. We also will provide a dial in number for those who wish to participate by phone.

Some of the expected topics include:

FASB Codification of Accounting Standards—The FASB's new codification and (purportedly non-substantive) restatement of all U.S. accounting principles, which went into effect on July 1.

PCAOB Constitutional Case—The litigation concerning the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall, and possible implications of a decision striking down the PCAOB.

SEC—Status of IFRS Roadmap and accounting convergence generally, and other recent developments.

FASB Proposed Disclosure Standards for Loss Contingencies—Recent developments on the loss contingency front.

FASB—Other recent FASB activities.

PCAOB—Current developments, including new rules regarding timing of inspections of foreign accounting firms.

Organizational—If time permits, we hope to discuss:
  • Alternative ways we can deliver value to members, such as webcasts, telephone briefings, and other content sources.

  • Expanding our focus—areas of intersection of law and accounting beyond just the financial reporting sphere.

Even if you are unable to attend the meeting, please give me your thoughts on the foregoing. Also, we are always looking for support from members who would like to participate in our projects or who have ideas about what the Committee might do.

Committee Program
"Stress Test: The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Mark-to-Market and Other Critical Accounting Policies Affecting Financial and Other Companies"—2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT, on Sunday, August 2, at the Chicago Sheraton, Superior A & B Room, Level 2—co-sponsored with the Committee on Federal Regulation of Securities. We are planning a multi-faceted panel, which will focus on the many ways in which accounting standards, and standard setters and regulators, have had to respond to the financial crisis. Among other things, we will look at the FASB's mark-to-market changes and their impact on recent financial reporting by financial institutions; going concern opinions, which have become more of a concern to businesses in all sectors in light of deteriorating economic conditions and liquidity crunches; and goodwill impairment, resulting from businesses' needs to reassess the carrying value of business units in light of recent results and stock prices. We will also cover late-breaking developments, including the Obama Administration proposals and the expected report of the FASB/IASB Financial Crisis Advisory Group.

The panel will be moderated by Tom White and panelists will include Allen Bannister, partner in Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Jeff Ellis, Managing Director of Huron Consulting Group; Dan Goelzer, Member of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board; and Linda MacDonald, Senior Managing Director of FTI Consulting.

Recent Meetings and Programs
2009 Spring Meeting. On April 18, 2009, we presented a program at the Business Law Section Spring Meeting in Vancouver, co-sponsored by the Committee on Federal Regulation of Securities, on "Cross-Border Impact of U.S. Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards."

You can find summaries of our recent committee meetings, along with Randy McClanahan's very useful summaries of current FASB developments, at the Committee's webpage: Business Law Section: Law and Accounting.

Committee Comment Letters
SEC Rulemaking File S7-27-08, "Roadmap for the Potential Use of Financial Statements Prepared in Accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards by U.S. Issuers." Together with the Federal Regulation of Securities and Audit Letter Response Committees, we prepared a comment letter on the SEC's proposed IFRS roadmap. The comment letter was filed on May 20, 2009.

As our agenda indicates, accounting issues will continue to be important for our clients. Our Committee meetings, our participation in programs and the drafting of comment letters and articles about accounting developments provide valuable resources for business lawyers to keep up with and exchange views and information about accounting and auditing developments of relevance to their practices. Please join us in Chicago on August 2.

–Tom White (Committee Chair)

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