If the collapse of Enron and the alleged shredding of documents by consulting giant Arthur Andersen have shown us anything, it’s that both consultants and their clients can end up doing some extraordinarily unsavory deeds to protect their own interests.

In practice, there are a variety of measures to encourage consultants and their clients to stay on the right side of the law. While contracts and nondisclosure agreements are standard fare, in some industries, regulatory bodies lay down the law for consultants and the work they do for their clients.

But despite safeguards and regulations, consultants, their clients, or both can end up doing wrong—especially when a client provides a large percentage of the consultant’s billing.

Looking back at Enron, it seems there were warning signs that the company was perched on the edge of a financial black hole. But there were scant public voicings of alarm and even fewer indications that anyone wanted to put their career on the line to do the right thing.

All of this has us wondering: Have you, as an IT consultant, ever been compelled either by your firm or your client to do something that was, at best, unethical or, worse, illegal? What were you asked to do? Did the ends, in your mind, justify the means? How widespread are such practices in the consulting industry and what—if anything—can be done to discourage questionable practices?

We’ve set up a discussion to find out how often our members have encountered such situations and how they’ve dealt with them. We won’t ask for your name or the identity of either your firm or your clients.

In a few weeks, we’ll run an article featuring your comments.

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