Compliance Blog: How Do You Know? The New Compliance “Hammer”

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.”

Partnering to Promote Professionalism

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.”

State Senator Speaks at Charlotte Law Paralegal Certificate Program Graduation

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.

Compliance Officer: A Career in Demand

Compliance has become one of the biggest buzzwords in corporate America and one of the hottest areas of the job market. In some sectors, new compliance jobs are growing at rates that are more than double the growth rate for non-compliance jobs. Many of those jobs command six figure salaries and there is a big demand at every experience level. Jack Kelly of Compliance Search Group said, “Hiring has gone up across the board … from senior level to junior level and everything in between.”[1]

WHAT THEY DO

Corporate compliance officers have a broad array of duties. The 2014 Compliance Trends Survey, conducted by Compliance Week and Deloitte, identified four core responsibilities that over 80% of survey respondents agreed were primary areas of focus[2]:

Compliance with domestic regulation
Compliance training
Code of conduct
Complaints and whistleblower hotlines
With these primary concerns in mind, it is easy to see that you don’t have to be a compliance specialist to benefit from increasing your compliance knowledge. Businesses expect many non-compliance professionals to be more knowledgeable in this area. Human resource professionals, accountants, paralegals, and many other professionals have a growing need to understand the complexities of compliance requirements that apply to their work and their organization. The big key in compliance today is being proactive in order to prevent problems.

WHERE THEY WORK

One of the biggest growth sectors for compliance professionals is financial services. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for compliance officer jobs in finance and insurance show projected growth of 11.1%[3] through 2022. That’s more than double the projected growth rate for non-compliance jobs in this sector. Many other industries are also hiring a multitude of compliance professionals.

Accounting, technology and healthcare companies have a huge and growing need for compliance professionals. Industry leaders like PWC, Deloitte, Oracle Corporation, and Healthcare Corporation of America (HCA) are just a few that top the list of companies with major hiring initiatives.

HOW MUCH THEY MAKE

Salaries for compliance professionals are strong and growing. According to the staffing firm Robert Half, even without a law degree, salaries for compliance analysts at midsized companies are between $67,500 and $89,000.[4] According to CareerBuilder, within accounting and finance, the median salary for regulatory compliance professionals is $93,550[5].

While a law degree is not required, there is huge demand for attorneys with compliance knowledge. “Compliance has opened up a whole new area for law school grads,” says Jason Wachtel, Managing Partner of executive search firm JW Michaels & Co. Chief Compliance Officers at large companies earn annual salaries in the range of $141,750 to $197,000[6]. At large multinational companies, the salaries are even higher.

HOW TO PREPARE YOURSELF

Whether you want to become a compliance professional or you want to enhance your compliance knowledge to be more effective and marketable in another profession, the best way to gain that knowledge is through a compliance program like the one offered though the Charlotte School of Law. This will ensure that you get the right information about the most relevant compliance issues that are up-to-date, which is extremely important in the rapidly changing environment businesses operate in today.