VOL. 9 | NO. 32 | Saturday, August 6, 2016
MacAulay Brings Family Law Litigation Talents to Memphis DHG
By Michael Waddell
Cindy MacAulay is making the move from Charleston, S.C., to join the Memphis office of Dixon Hughes Goodman this month, bringing her expertise in income analysis, forensic accounting, tax consulting, and business valuations.
For the past 20 years, she has practiced as a Certified Public Accountant, the last 15 years of which have been solely related to domestic matters, assisting clients and their attorneys in the litigation process.
“I testified in my first divorce case in 1998. I had just joined the firm, and it was really before we were doing this type of litigation work,” said MacAulay, who spent a year discovering where a large sum of money had been spent in a divorce dispute before being called to trial.
DHG began doing more divorce work, and MacAulay eventually gave up her tax work and did only litigation support. Today she focuses primarily on domestic/divorce cases.
“Divorce clients can reap many benefits to having a resource like Cindy in the litigation process,” said Anne Davis, attorney with Butler Sevier Hinsley & Reid PLLC and president of the Memphis Bar Association’s Family Law Section. “Not only is she frequently used as an expert witness to testify, but she is a terrific resource in assisting in the evaluation of a case, whether that be for trial, mediation or a collaborative law process.”
MacAulay’s litigation support also includes cases involving commercial damages, business valuations, valuation services, personal economic damages, digital forensics, fraud and corporate embezzlement (computer/phone searches).
“Such evaluative assistance can range from determining the value of a closely held business, the review of financial information such as personal and business income tax returns, valuation of a party's fringe benefits, the tax impact that different settlement scenarios would have on a party, and calculating the appreciation of a party's separate property over the time of the marriage,” Davis said.
DHG has digital forensics labs in several of its offices, including in Memphis, where MacAulay and her team can dig into financial, phone and email records as well as social and other digital media.
“Even though people delete things, our digital forensics can uncover a lot,” she said. “We’ve found (evidence of) adultery based on the date and geographic location of where a picture was taken.”
In 99 percent of MacAulay’s cases, she is hired by an attorney to provide litigation support, and most times she is hired at the beginning of a case. She can be hired by both plaintiffs and defendants and is often hired or appointed as a joint expert, representing both parties in Family Court.
“We can help with the discovery items and with which documents are needed for the case, and then we can educate the attorneys and the clients along the way on how their case looks,” MacAulay explained. “You would think numbers are cut and dried, but there are a lot of legal arguments that can be made that can change those numbers to one side or the other and change the overall settlement.”
Building relationships with Memphis attorneys is extremely valuable to her process, so she began establishing a professional network well in advance of joining the DHG Memphis office.
“Our job is really to assist the attorneys and the clients on the business and economic issues of their case. So we’re providing them with the expertise, the knowledge, the information they need to get their case resolved,” said MacAulay, who received the 2014 South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants’ Women to Watch Emerging Leader Award.
She points out that the firm’s forensic valuation practice is a separate service line, and the people that work in it are 100 percent dedicated to that line of work.
MacAulay is currently active in DHG Memphis’ Women Forward program and has been since its inception.
“Women Forward exists to help us recruit, develop, and retain best-in-class women and to further advance and support women at DHG, in our communities, and beyond through learning and leadership development opportunities for both women and men,” she said. “We want to provide all of our people with the tools and resources they need to be successful in their careers. Our clients also expect us to have diverse teams.”
Women Forward hosts a Rainmaker series, which teaches networking and business development skills and client service. The program has hosted networking and wellness events for professional women in Memphis.
“There’s a lot going on in Memphis,” she said. “I like to be outdoors, whether it’s walking, jogging or biking. I love the river and walking Downtown.”
While MacAulay moves here full-time this month, she’s already enjoyed playing some of the area’s golf courses, the dragon boat races at Mud Island, a Grizzlies game and a Redbirds game. Next up she wants to visit the Memphis Zoo and the ride the Memphis steamboats.
“Everyone’s been so open and friendly,” she said. “It’s been an amazing experience in the six months since I started coming here.”