When law students think like audit litigation attorneys: Implications for experimental research

Brian M. Goodson, Jonathan H. Grenier, Eldar Maksymov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Prior research suggests that drivers of audit litigation periodically change, requiring continuing research to understand them. Yet, our understanding of the factors influencing the judgments of audit litigation attorneys—who resolve most audit disputes via settlement—remains limited, primarily due to the limited availability of these attorneys for experimental research. We seek to remedy this impediment by examining judgments of audit litigation attorneys, law professors, and law students to assess whether law students—an accessible pool of participants with technical legal knowledge—can proxy for audit litigation attorneys in some settings. Our results suggest that law students can reasonably proxy for audit litigation attorneys in decision settings more reliant on the application of technical legal knowledge primarily acquired in law school, relative to the application of strategic legal knowledge primarily acquired through legal experience. We validate a theoretical model and provide guidance on when law students should and should not be used as proxies. Our findings open fruitful avenues for future research of important audit litigation topics that have not been sufficiently examined, likely due to researchers’ lack of access to audit litigation attorneys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101399
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Attorneys
  • Audit liability
  • Audit litigation
  • Law students
  • Legal experience
  • Legal strategy
  • Settlements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management


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