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Mention the collapse of Andersen to a lawyer and the reaction will typically be a mixture of shock, amazement and fear – plus a touch, perhaps, of a sense that “there but for the grace of God”. Many lessons can be drawn from this unfortunate episode, not least that a professional firm’s reputation, one of its most valuable, albeit intangible, assets, can be a fragile thing, vulnerable to harm. Andersen’s professional reputation, carefully and expensively established over a number of years, was destroyed virtually overnight as a result of the actions of people within the firm or by clients that have indulged in irregular activity.

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