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Any lawyer who is looked upon within his or her firm or in-house legal department as the resident Sarbanes-Oxley Act expert has likely encountered questions about the applicability of the act to private companies. Considering the general information available in the news media, many clients, and not a few lawyers, may assume that Sarbanes-Oxley applies only to publicly traded companies in all circumstances. And it is correct to understand that the legislative impetus behind the passage of the act was a desire to protect the shareholders of publicly traded companies, and that nearly all of its provisions apply only to such companies.

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