What a judge prefers in a BV expert

BVWireIssue #67-1
April 2, 2008

For the second year, the ASA’s New York City Chapter joined with the NYC Bar to offer their mock trial event: “What’s it Worth in Divorce?” which took place last month in Manhattan.   Charles Coyne (Empire Valuation) and Joan Lipton (Lazar Lipton Valuation Services) starred as the respective experts on behalf of the husband and wife.   Both provided top-notch testimony under examination, cross-examination, and redirect, to Judge Rosalyn Richter (Supreme Court, New York County).  While they both took substantially similar approaches to the appraisal of the assets, they disagreed on three classic areas of conflict: the cap rate, the marketability discount, and whether all assets were, in fact, “operating.”   In the process, both Coyne and Lipton offered textbook guidance on how to deal with leading questions, respond to evidence from opposing experts—and they presented good models on how to explain everything from weighted versus straight averaging, to normalizing financial statements and working with neutral experts. 

How did the judge respond?   “We’re dependent on our experts to explain things we weren’t taught in law school,” she observed, before adding what most BV professionals already agree on, “Therefore, I prefer to see less time spent on qualification of experts and more time on the testimony.”   In her “final” decision, she credited one expert’s spending more time with the business as well as that expert’s ability to “keep the focus on the material aspects of value” rather than getting distracted by small details. 

Hone your courtroom skills in divorce at the Hands-On Workshop for BV Professionals, co-sponsored by BVR and the ASA, September 16-17, 2008, in Chicago.

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