Taking the steep escalator up from the lobby of the Andersen accounting firm's Chicago headquarters recently, former partner Susan Gallagher glanced to the left into the offices of the once-bustling tax practice.

Not even the lights were on.

Few remain to mourn the Chicago firm's conviction Saturday on an obstruction-of-justice charge. But although the firm appears destined to fade to black, its legacy continues shaping business practices across the globe.

Andersen alumni such as Gallagher are moving into prominent posts elsewhere, and the former Andersen Consulting unit lives on as the independent Accenture, its spinoff two years ago having spared it from its one-time parent's downfall. Influential companies worldwide still look to the Andersen business model for insights into running global enterprises.

Gone from Andersen's legacy, though, is its reputation as a crusader for fairness and integrity.

"Arthur Andersen used to be the absolutely golden seal of approval, and how stunning it is to see it go," notes Nell Minow, a governance expert at The Corporate Library research group. "It hasn't been the gold standard for quite a while."

Reached Saturday at his suburban home, Arthur Andersen IV, great-grandson of firm founder Arthur Andersen, said: "It's a shame. My great-grandfather would have been very upset by this. The firm was built on a foundation of integrity, but that seemed to go in the 1990s."

Naturally, Gallagher and many other shell-shocked Andersen loyalists resist that view. At the new Huron Consulting Group she formed in Chicago recently with several hundred fellow refugees, Gallagher says a key goal is retaining "the incredibly high integrity and value system" of Andersen.

Nevertheless, critics see the firm as a poster child for the broader loss of professionalism in accounting and other business services. Jealous of their consulting partners' success, Andersen's audit and tax partners abandoned their independence and sold out the public trust in pursuit of greater fees, the critics say.

"It just seems to me that greed got in the way of ethics," observes Bruce A. Spacek, a retired accounting executive and Andersen veteran, whose late father, Leonard, led the firm in its heyday as the profession's moral compass. "When I was in the firm, this never would have happened. The ethics we had were pounded into us every week."

Even as Spacek and other old-timers reminisce about the Andersen of the past, large parts of the firm are moving to rivals, including entire foreign practices. Grant Thornton, the No. 7 accounting firm in the U.S., last week snapped up part of the Houston office where the fateful audits of Enron Corp. occurred.

Deloitte sees local gains

And in Chicago, 950 partners and staff from Andersen's headquarters are re-assembling just blocks away at Deloitte & Touche.

The move makes Deloitte the area's dominant firm, bringing with it about 60 percent of the audit clients from Andersen's crown-jewel Chicago office. Is managing partner Jeffrey Rohr concerned that Andersen's problems will rub off on Deloitte, a firm known for its conservative history?

"No," Rohr replies bluntly. Just as Deloitte absorbed Touche Ross more than a decade ago, integrating a firm then considered slick but lightweight, it will accommodate the heritage of Andersen, too.

"You build something new," Rohr says. "The clients we have spoken with had outstanding respect for the Andersen people who served them. They will have great ideas that they will bring with them."

Still, others say a culture clash is inevitable, and grumbling about the higher pay and authority accorded to the most senior Andersen arrivals already has started.

Spacek predicts that within a decade, the Andersen veterans, known for their aggressiveness, will rise to the top of the firms they join. "They're going to end up running them," he says.

None will seek to imitate one part of Andersen's legacy, however. In the early 1950s, Andersen pioneered information-technology consulting, developing a practice that grew much faster and became far more lucrative than its core audit and tax business. Critics say the firm lowered its standards to win more consulting business, creating a fatal conflict of interest.