Ten years ago, when compliance programs were being established, the focus was on identifying, documenting, and communicating compliance requirements. There was also an emphasis on communicating the consequences of non-compliance and the potential for significant financial penalties, criminal charges, and even court appointed monitors. These consequences were like a compliance “hammer” and were used to get the attention of employees, management and leadership. For the most part, it worked.
Today, regulatory oversight continues to increase with the enactment of new laws such as the Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Care Act. It’s essential that compliance programs be structured to document and now demonstrate compliance with laws, rules, and regulations.
The basic elements of documenting and communicating compliance requirements remain at the core of a successful compliance program but, there’s an increased focus on answering a fundamental question: How do you know? A response of “because we have documentation in place” may not be sufficient. A more appropriate response might be “because we have substantiation and we can prove it.” Regulators and auditors who are assessing the effectiveness of compliance programs are looking for substantiation. Substantiation means determining ownership and accountability for tasks associated with compliance requirements at the individual level. This may include attesting to completion of a compliance requirement, being able to explain why the requirement exists, or even producing documentation to support it. Ultimately, it boils down to ownership and accountability – the new compliance “hammer.”
At Charlotte School of Law, we embrace the idea of “interdependence.” I recently attended the Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries conference, which was held in Lexington, Kentucky. I had the privilege of presenting, as part of a panel, on the topic of “Partnering to Promote Professionalism and Effective Practitioners: What Every Law School Graduate Should Know.” My co-panelists were law firm librarians. In addition to having been friends for many years, we each, at some point, had been responsible for training and coordinating the training of young associates.
Law firm librarians have always played an indispensable part in the nurturing and development of new associates. They still do, but as the hiring practices of “Big Law” firms have undergone a change, the responsibility of providing students with the practice-ready professionalism, the technology skills and the business acumen necessary to succeed has shifted back to law schools. The message that I, an academic librarian and former law firm librarian, and my two law firm librarians attempted to impart was that we are more effective when we work together.
In order to prepare for my portion of the presentation, I drew upon the first annual BarBri “State of the Legal Field” survey, Wawrose’s, “What Do Legal Employers Want to See in New Graduates? Using Focus Groups to Find Out” 39 Ohio N. U. L. Rev. 505 (2013) and Stouffer’s “Closing the Gap: Teaching ‘practice-ready’ legal skills,” 19 AALL Spectrum 10 (February 2015). I also interviewed Associate Dean Michael Farley, Director of the Center for Professional Development Aretha Blake, and Program Coordinator for Process Excellence Krystyll Gardner in order to gain an overview of the Charlotte School of Law “Student Success Initiative.” The CSL library staff also implemented its own projects and while those projects contributed to the goal of focusing on professionalism, GRIT and relationship-building, it was clear that greater inroads were made when the library partnered with other departments.
Likewise, when law school librarians join forces with their counterparts in firms and government libraries, the impact is greater than when they work alone. My co-panelists discussed the “Business Side of Law Firms” and “Making the Transition” from law student to practitioner. We encouraged all attendees to work with each other, not only for the betterment of their own employer, but for the greater good that can be achieved. To quote Mark Shields, “There is always strength in numbers.”
North Carolina State Senator, Jeff Jackson, delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremonies for the Paralegal Certificate Program on June 9th.
The Charlotte Law Paralegal Certificate Program offers a six-month curriculum that includes development of legal research and writing skills, access to the law school’s on-campus library, career counseling, internships and networking opportunities for students. The program was designated as a Qualified Paralegal Studies Program by the North Carolina State Bar in 2012.
One of the program graduates, Johnell A. Holman, noted, “It has always been a lifelong dream of mine, becoming a lawyer, and for me, this was a necessary first step. The learning environment and wonderful scheduling of class here has allowed me to begin a path that will be full of successful achievements. CSL has given me both hope and inspiration.”
The Fall 2015 session of the Paralegal Certificate Program will begin on July 27th.