This study examines whether the presence of a general counsel (GC) in top management affects audit effort and audit outcomes. Hopkins, Maydew, and Venkatachalam (2015) find that firms with GCs in top management have lower financial reporting quality and tolerate more aggressive financial reporting practices, which likely influences audit risk. Given the GCs' influence on the financial reporting process, we posit that auditors of firms with GCs in top management increase the amount of effort they expend to provide reasonable assurance that financial statements are stated fairly. We find that the presence of GCs in firms' top management is positively associated with audit effort but does not directly affect the likelihood that these firms will receive unqualified audit opinions that contain explanatory language. Our findings suggest that GCs influence the external audit market by participating in the financial reporting process.

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