Mark S. Gottlieb interviewed for Profiles on Professionals

October 13, 2009

At 48 years old, Mark Gottlieb has become a national lecturer, author, and for many litigation attorneys, the "go to guy." But he may take it as an insult if you call him an expert witness. Mark has built one of the most sought after boutique forensic accounting and business valuation firms in the New York area. Matrimonial and commercial litigation attorneys frequently call upon Mark and his firm for assistance. His place in the litigation world may have been accidental, but his attention to detail and skill as a communicator has made him a lawyer's most trusted ally. We recently sat down with Mark in his office in Great Neck.

How it all began:

I don't think I ever considered anything other than being an accountant. I certainly did not imagine a career in forensics, business valuation, or litigation support. I grew up in a small family business and was enamored by my father's respect for his accountant, who routinely prepared his books, payroll, sales, and income taxes. Upon graduation from college I worked for Coopers & Lybrand, which is now called PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I made a lateral move to Ernst & Whinney (now known as Ernst & Young); but, realizing that they would never change the name of the firm to "Ernst & Gottlieb," I left to start my own firm. After mastering the art of "write-up work," I started to develop an interest in other accounting disciplines. I went to school at night to obtain a Masters degree in Taxation, but even still, I wasn't completely satisfied.

For a number of years I subscribed to an accounting marketing newsletter. In one issue they had a cartoon of an accountant sitting behind his desk and holding a phone to each ear. The caption stated something to the effect, "Why do attorneys call me?" It was then that I got the bug for litigation support. Over the last fifteen years I have obtained numerous credentials and accreditations in business valuation and forensic accounting. My instincts were right, being a litigation support specialist and expert witness has certainly taken advantage of my skill set. Today our firm's practice is exclusively devoted to business valuation, litigation support, and forensic accounting.

Practice philosophy:

If we met at Starbucks and you asked me what I did for a living I would probably answer - I am in the financial literacy business. Calling myself a forensic accountant seems a little too sterile. What I really do is work with attorneys, enabling them to coherently navigate the financial components of their case. In today's increasingly complex financial world, technical competency meets the bare minimum requirements for litigation support; forensic accounting demands more than the ability to count beans. We take pride in mastering the art of clear, concise communication. We interact with lawyers, their clients, Judges, and even juries. Everything we say, write, and present must stand on their own two feet.

Biggest misconception about forensic accounting:

There are many misconceptions, but perhaps the biggest is that forensic accountants sit by themselves all day hovering over spreadsheets. Much of our work is devoted to interviewing business owners, litigants, and industry specific specialists. We also perform field visits and write extensive economic and industry analysis. But our most valuable role is to assist attorneys so they will understand the financial components to their cases.

Favorite part of the job:

This is much more than a job; I like to think of it as a vocation. I enjoy the challenge of puzzle solving coupled with the need to effectively communicate. But, if I had to limit my response to just one thing, I would say that my favorite aspect of my job is that of being an educator. In every case, it seems to come down to educating our staff, clients, lawyers, judges, and other decision makers.

Describe your typical day:

If days were typical or routine I would probably not enjoy my work as much. But most days start the same way. I like to get to the office as early as possible. This allows me to review the status of the active engagements and make sure that we have responded properly to the previous day's enquiries. I generally speak with our staff to review the engagements they are working on and monitor the status of our document requests. The balance of my day is spent reviewing financial models, narratives, workpapers, etc. as well as working with the attorneys that retain our services. No two days are ever the same, and no two engagements are ever identical.

How is your firm different from that of your competitors?

That is actually a very good question; one of which I ask myself very frequently. As a boutique firm with a definite practice niche we are very well suited to compete with larger firms that have a litigation department. Rather than be limited by the competing needs of other departments within a firm, we are solely focused on the litigation support requirements of our clients, giving us the freedom to think outside of the box and identify those issues that are most significant. We are very well organized; almost completely paperless, and up to date on all the technical disciplines of our profession. This progressive thinking is clearly evident in our work product.

What is the secret to keeping the attorneys that hire you happy?

If I tell you, it won't be a secret. But I will tell you what makes our clients happy are time, cost, and quality. It is very important to perform our tasks in a timely and cost efficient manner. Most of all, the quality of our work must be clearly evident in everything we produce: correspondence, financial models, as well as reports. This may sound easy, but it is one of our greatest challenges as litigation support providers.

What is next on the horizon for MSG?

Our firm is continuing to grow, in spite of the precarious economy. Perhaps because of it. Our Connecticut office is more than a year old now and progressing faster than expected. Our core New York clientele is mature and continues to be our foundation. This year, we hope to continue doing what we do best, which is to service the attorneys who allow us to help them with the financial matters of their cases. In addition, we are in the process of preparing credentialed continuing legal education seminars and other academic material to help the legal professional understand and utilize our services. Work is always a challenge, but one that we welcome. We're always looking forward to the next project or engagement.

Contact Us

To discuss how we may help you, please call us at:

  • New York City:
  • 646-661-3800
  • White Plains:
  • 914-294-4300
  • Great Neck:
  • 516-829-4936
  • Stamford:
  • 203-357-1500
  • Roseland:
  • 973-226-4500

How may we help you?

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