Elaine M. Harwood

Senior Vice President


  • Los Angeles


Elaine Harwood heads the firm’s accounting practice. She consults to clients and works with experts on litigation, complex enforcement matters brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and corporate investigations. She is an expert on financial accounting, financial reporting, and auditing. Dr. Harwood has served for more than twenty years as a consultant and expert on a wide range of liability and damages issues.

Women We Admire named Dr. Harwood to its annual list of the Top 50 Women Leaders in Los Angeles.

Securities litigation

Dr. Harwood works with clients and experts in prominent securities class actions. Her experience includes analysis of loss causation and damages in disclosure cases for clients in a wide range of industries, including financial institutions, consumer products, communications, technology, and energy.

SEC and PCAOB enforcement

Dr. Harwood’s expertise includes all phases of SEC and PCAOB enforcement activity, from informal investigations through to trial or administrative hearings. Dr. Harwood has addressed allegations related to:

  • Adequacy of disclosures
  • Alleged financial reporting fraud
  • Appropriateness of audit procedures, including procedures performed by international affiliates of U.S. accounting firms
  • Alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
  • Adverse consequential damages of regulatory sanctions
Accounting and auditing

Dr. Harwood specializes in financial accounting, financial reporting, and auditing issues that arise in investigations, litigation, and enforcement actions. She is an authority on:

  • U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • PCAOB and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) auditing standards
  • Internal control over financial reporting
  • International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
  • Governmental accounting standards
  • Forensic accounting
Research and presentations

Dr. Harwood’s coauthored articles and publications include Cornerstone Research’s annual report on accounting class action filings and settlements, and annual reports on accounting and auditing enforcement by the SEC and PCAOB. She speaks widely to legal and trade audiences on trends and new developments in litigation and regulatory enforcement, financial accounting and reporting, and auditing.

Dr. Harwood is a member of the advisory council of the University of Southern California’s SEC and Financial Reporting Institute. In 2023, she was one of just four women named to Who’s Who Legal’s (WWL’s) inaugural list of Thought Leaders USA – Investigations Forensic Accountants. WWL has also recognized her as a Global Leader Consulting Expert – Forensic Accountants in the legal investigations space.

Before joining Cornerstone Research, Dr. Harwood was a professor at Boston College. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), is certified in financial forensics (CFF) by the AICPA, and has a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in accounting.


The Hertz Corporation et al. v. Frissora et al.

Press Release

WWL: Investigations Forensic Accountants 2023


Trends in PCAOB, SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Actions

Press Release

SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Activity Increased Sharply in FY 2022


SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Activity—Year in Review: FY 2022


Accounting Class Action Filings and Settlements—2022 Review and Analysis

Press Release

Total Value of Settlements in Accounting-Related Securities Class Actions Rises in 2022

Press Release

Elaine Harwood Recognized among the Top 50 Women Leaders of Los Angeles for 2023

  • “Spotlight on Accounting Fraud: The SEC’s Renewed Focus and Implications for Private Securities Litigation,” Bloomberg BNA, 2015
  • “The Tenth Anniversary of SOX: Its Impact and Implications for Future Securities Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement Actions,” Bloomberg BNA, July 2012
  • “What Makes Securities Class Actions with Accounting Allegations Different?,” Professional Liability Litigation Committee, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, 2011
  • “GAAP: The Effect of the Codification on Accountant and Auditor Liability Cases,” Professional Liability Litigation Committee, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, 2011
  • “Fraud and Litigation,” CARE (Center for Accounting Research and Education) conference, Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, 5 August 2016
  • “The Future of Securities Class Actions against Accounting Firms in the Wake of Halliburton and Other Supreme Court Decisions,” ALI CLE Annual Conference: Confronting Enforcement and Litigation Risks, 11 September 2014
  • “Auditor Liability: Defending Private Actions and Investigations by the PCAOB and SEC,” 2nd Annual Securities Litigation & Enforcement Institute, New York City Bar Association, 12 November 2013