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“Goodbye, accrual world” – sorry, but US legal departments have to report incurred but unpaid legal fees

Some metrics are available that tell us how frequently legal departments collect accrual data from their law firms. Not an accountant, my working definition of accruals are legal costs incurred but not paid by a fiscal-period cutoff date (See my post of Aug. 24, 2005: year-end accruals and their difficulties; Sept. 17, 2005 #4: accruals at one company at the end of the year only; Oct. 1, 2006: finance needs to learn known amounts due to be paid in the future; and Dec. 21, 2008: whether to submit accruals monthly.).

As reported in the 2008 ACC/Serengeti Survey (and published in the ACC Docket, Vol. 27, May 2009 at 52), 31 percent of the respondents to the survey accrue monthly, 31 percent accrue quarterly, and 16 percent accrue annually. Either the rest didn’t answer the question or they, the lucky few, don’t accrue legal fees.