The other day I phoned an old acquaintance whom I hadn't spoken to in nearly eight years.I knew him only as a consultant to the hospitality industry, but in a previous life, he had been a partner at Laventhol & Horwath, which at one time was the seventh-largest accounting firm in the country with nearly 3,400 employees.

The firm, which had specialized in, among other niches, accounting services for the commercial real estate industry, had been broadsided by a confluence of unfortunate events, some of which in all honesty were self made.

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