Value Added: How Pro Bono Volunteer Neil Steinkamp & Stout Risus Ross, Inc Utilized Financial Expertise to Assist LAS and its Clients
Thursday, December 05, 2013
- Organization: The Legal Aid Society
Neil Steinkamp is the Managing Director of Dispute Advisory & Forensic Services with Stout Risius Ross, Inc. (“SRR”), a premier global financial advisory firm that specializes in investment banking, valuation and financial opinions, and dispute advisory and forensic services. SRR works with a wide range of clients from Fortune 500 corporations to privately held companies in numerous industries around the world.
Neil, who began his career at SRR in 1999 just after graduating from Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, and his colleagues at SRR have demonstrated that corporate pro bono work is pivotal to The Legal Aid Society’s programs. His team has provided immeasurable assistance to the Society’s Employment Law, Domestic Violence/Family Law, and Law Reform Units by contributing their financial expertise pro bono. Their work has saved hundreds of hours of Legal Aid staff time and greatly improved the quality of case valuations.
How did you become involved with The Legal Aid Society?
Throughout my professional career I have pursued opportunities to apply my talents and those of my colleagues to assist others and our community. I was invited to speak to the NYSBA Pro Bono Committee on the topic of "The Use of Financial Experts in Pro Bono Matters." After the presentation, I had the pleasure of meeting Lou Sartori and exchanging a few words and our respective business cards. The rest is history, as they say. Lou and I followed up and began exploring ways in which SRR could be supportive of the many efforts of The Legal Aid Society.
What type of pro bono matters have you and your colleagues worked on with Legal Aid?
Our work with Legal Aid has been varied and continues to expand as we are introduced to others at Legal Aid who may find value in our expertise and experience. Our work has included the analysis of damages and wages loss, forensic accounting of business records, the value of assets, and related expert reports. In addition, we have assisted in the development of financial models and analyses to assist units of The Legal Aid Society or to provide templates that can be used as the starting point for certain matters.
Neil Steinkamp, Managing Director of Dispute Advisory and Forensic Services at SRR
How does your pro bono work differ from your private client work?
We don’t consider our pro bono work to be any different than our private client work in most respects. We are dedicated to the same standards of quality, client responsiveness, and value-added contributions to the engagement.
Most people think of pro bono work as providing strictly legal services, how do you believe it has been beneficial for our clients to have a financial expert working on their case?
For the matters in which we are providing either forensic accounting, valuation or damages assistance, we are assisting in the quantification of the harm. That is, the Legal Aid lawyers can secure a win on liability, but it is often challenging to quantify how much is owed to their client to make them whole or to compensate them for their loss. That’s where we assist. Our work has helped the Legal Aid lawyers be more certain regarding the damages and be able to make a more compelling presentation to opposing counsel, or to a judge or jury.
You and your colleagues have worked with a number of Legal Aid attorneys and Legal Aid clients. Could you describe your shared experiences?
While every case, and every lawyer, is different, I can say that we have always been impressed with the dedication and quality of the Legal Aid lawyers. In each case, they have demonstrated a true commitment to the highest quality representation of their client and a true appreciation for the service of others. In each case, I have felt it an honor and privilege to work alongside them.
What do you enjoy most about providing pro bono services to the clients of The Legal Aid Society?
The professionals of SRR have a unique set of experience, expertise, and education that enables us to perform analyses and understand complex financial information in a way that many find challenging. Much like lawyers are experts in the law, we are experts with respect to our practice areas. To be able to utilize those capabilities in a way that benefits others who otherwise would have limited access to this expertise is one of things we enjoy most about working with the clients of The Legal Aid Society.
Would you recommend volunteering to work on a pro bono matter to your colleagues? Why?
Without question – and I do all the time! It is truly wonderful to work with so many colleagues who are interested in the opportunities to be of service in this way. I think it’s a testament to SRR’s culture that we have so many of our professionals participating in these activities. More importantly, I would recommend the opportunity to work on a pro bono matter for other financial advisors. We should all consider the opportunity to apply unique professional capabilities in such settings.