MJ Resources: Compliance
WHAT IS COMPLIANCE?
A bright spot in the legal job market is compliance work. Many compliance professionals are not attorneys; however, this is one job market where a JD can put a candidate at a competitive advantage.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and globalized, more businesses, non-profits and not-for-profits need assistance navigating the increasingly complex and substantively broad maze of state, federal and international regulations. Because compliance failures are serious and can both precipitate legal action and destroy a company's reputation, compliance practice is challenging. Compliance practice calls for attorneys and others with legal training who are capable of exercising sharp and wise judgment that balances a company's need to be ethical and legal with the need for growth and profitability.
Many law firms possess compliance expertise in a broad variety of legal areas and industries. Increasingly, however, compliance professionals are working either in-house or for consultancies that specialize in assessing and implementing compliance mechanisms for their clients. Additionally, a good number of the attorneys and professionals who work at state, federal and international governmental agencies also do compliance work.
What distinguishes a compliance professional is the compliance professional's skillset and the nature of the relationship with their client. Obviously, the compliance professional must have expertise in a specific area of law. However, a compliance professional must also be able to use that expertise to assess, create, implement and monitor concrete risk avoidance plans of action for the client that work within the practical context of the client's business.
In order to be effective, the compliance professional must master their client's internal structures (executive board, management and specific departments), understand the interactions between those structures and appreciate the nature and personality of the players involved. For example, a compliance professional seeking to create a data retention policy would need to know every department in which data is internally collected and appreciate the business and personal relationships between those departments in order to fully assess company risk and anticipate potential breaches. Additionally, a compliance specialist must be familiar with the relevant regulatory agencies and learn to collaborate effectively with agency personnel. More and more, industry compliance professionals partner directly with the governmental agencies to proactively shape and conform a company's policies and practices to the dictates of law.
WHERE DO COMPLIANCE PROFESSIONALS WORK?
Compliance professionals tend to be specialized. While an exhaustive list of those specialties is not possible, here is a partial listing of some of the more common practice areas:
- Advertising Compliance Professionals advise advertisers, public relations, advertising and media firms on issues specific to advertising media and trademark law.
- Antitrust Compliance Professionals work to ensure that their clients operate within the proper scope of the antitrust and anti-competition laws.
- Banking Law Compliance Professionals work on behalf of banks and other financial institutions to ensure compliance with state, federal and international banking law, securities regulation and anti-money laundering laws.
- Corporate Compliance Specialists work to ensure that corporate management and board entities adhere to their own corporate charters, rules and by-laws.
- Data Retention Compliance Professionals guide clients through the increasingly complex maze of data retention laws.
- Healthcare Compliance Professionals advise healthcare providers, such as nursing homes, psychiatric centers, health maintenance organizations, hospitals and medical professionals on issues unique to health care providers such as physician recruitment, the acquisition of physician practices, medical staff relations, credentialing issues, licensing, reimbursement and other administrative issues, to name a few.
- Privacy Specialists work to shape what clients in all industries can legally do to obtain, store and utilize the increasing volumes of data these companies now possess. These jobs are usually on the company side but are sometimes with plaintiffs and government.
- Research Compliance Professionals advise organizations conducting clinical research and developing and marketing drugs and devices.
- Global Compliance Specialists advise organizations doing significant business outside of the United States or who have significant relationships with non-U.S. entities on the applicable laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act, that govern those relationships.
- Higher Education Compliance Professionals guide academic institutions through a variety of regulatory requirements, including privacy, safety, grants, financial aid, discrimination, disabilities, athletics, accreditation, and copyright and intellectual property.
Federal Regulatory Agencies that may hire compliance professionals:
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: enforces federal safety standards
- Environmental Protection Agency: establishes and enforces pollution standards
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: administers and enforces Title VIII or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (fair employment)
- Federal Aviation Administration: regulates and promotes air transportation safety, including airports and pilot licensing
- Federal Communications Commission: regulates interstate and foreign communication by radio, telephone, telegraph and television
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: insures bank deposits, approves mergers and audits banking practices
- Federal Reserve System: regulates banking and manages the money supply in the United States
- Federal Trade Commission: ensures free and fair competition and protects consumers from unfair or deceptive practices
- Food & Drug Administration: administers federal food purity laws, drug testing and safety and cosmetics testing and safety
- Interstate Commerce Commission: enforces federal laws concerning transportation that crosses state lines
- National Labor Relations Board: prevents or corrects unfair labor practices by either employer or unions
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission: licenses and regulates non-military nuclear facilities
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: develops and enforces federal standards and regulations ensuring working conditions
- Securities & Exchange Commission: administers federal laws concerning the buying and selling of securities
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN PURSUING A COMPLIANCE CAREER...
1. Select foundation law courses that will acquaint you with the basic areas of law. You should consider: administrative law, antitrust, corporations, healthcare, securities regulation, intellectual property and technology law. Or pursue a concentration in compliance studies. This special designation signals to employers that you have focused your curriculum in compliance topics.
2. Pursue compliance-related coursework, such as:
- 126: Corporate Compliance Programs
- 798: Health Care Compliance
- 823: Privacy and Security of Corporate Information
- 929: Enterprise Risk Management
- 829: Global Compliance
3. Become familiar with compliance associations and certifications. Many compliance positions require certification and/or specialized training. Some common organizations that provide training and/or certification include the Compliance Certification Board, Health Care Compliance Association, National Society of Compliance Professionals, the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics, and the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
4. Gain practical experience and skills in compliance areas. Students can take courses focusing on cross-industry compliance skills, such as Compliance Training Methods, Conducting Internal Investigations, or Drafting Policies and Procedures. Campus JD and LLM students can gain practical experience and enrich your knowledge by devoting at least one of your summers to working at a firm, agency, or organization that specializes in your specific area of interest. Online MJ and LLM students can concentrate their studies in compliance, attend compliance programming at Education Immersion Weekends, and focus their thesis project on a compliance topic.
5. Seeking out internships at the agencies responsible for administering your particular area of interest. Internships with a government agency will help you to more fully understand not just the law, but the agency's priorities and concerns. Someone interested in environmental compliance would, for example, seek out an internship with a state or federal environmental protection agency.
6. Pursue a certification with the Compliance Certification Board (CCB). Loyola JD, LLM and MJ students who successfully complete at least 15 hours of compliance coursework, on campus or online, are automatically eligible to sit for the CCB exams without having to fulfill professional work experience requirements. For more information, visit the CCB's website or contact HLBLStudentAdvising@luc.edu.