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How to Find the Best Lawyer for a Software Audit

I am a partner in Scott & Scott, LLP a firm that focuses on technology law matters in Southlake, Texas.  We represent companies in software audit matters initiated by the major publishers including Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Autodesk and many others. My team has combined experience of over 50 years defending software audits and I spend a good part of my workday talking to prospective clients about their software audit matters. I had my first encounter with a software audit in 2004.  I received a letter from the BSA alleging that my firm had installed copies of BSA member software without licenses. We all had a sinking feeling when reading the letter from the attorney in Washington, D.C.

We looked for an experienced attorney to represent the company in my first software audit matter. I immediately interviewed prospective lawyers. Here are the questions I asked them:

  1. How many software audit cases have you personally handled?
    2. How many software audit cases are you handling at this time?
    3. How many cases have you had with the specific opposing counsel or third-party auditors that we are dealing with?
    4. How long will this process take?
    5. How much will this process cost including financial exposure and total fees?

I interviewed 3 or 4 lawyers and gave up after it became evident, they had no meaningful experience. Ultimately, we decided to handle the case on behalf of the company and resolved the case with no penalty. Realizing that there were very few lawyers with relevant experience, I began speaking and writing about software audit cases. Fifteen years later, we have handled over 500 software audit matters.

Now I am on the other side of the discussion speaking to as many as 40 software audit targets every month. Here is what I want to know from a prospective client:

  1. How many computers does your company own?
    2. What are the in-scope software products?
    3. Where do you buy your software?
    4. Have you made any changes to your environment since receiving the software audit notice?
    5. Have you discovered any specific areas of concern regarding financial exposure?
    6. Do you have any IT initiatives that need to proceed during the pendency of the audit?

If you have a software audit matter and are discussing these questions with your attorney, you are well on the way to finding the best lawyer for your case. Having been on both sides of the discussion for many years, asking and listening for the right questions is the key to finding the best fit.