A lawsuit claiming that Pension Consulting Alliance failed to monitor a Northern Trust Corp. securities lending program for the $10.2 billion Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System could have wide implications for all investment consultants.

If PCA loses the case, the decision could expand the fiduciary responsibility of consultants, holding them liable beyond the limits of their contracts. The case will depend on what exactly is in PCA's contract with the retirement system and how much fiduciary responsibility PCA accepted, said Brian M. Pinheiro, a Ballard Spahr employee benefits attorney.

If PCA's contract is more generic and does not go into detail, and the court still holds the consultant responsible, it would be significant for the consulting community, Mr. Pinheiro said.