By Beatrice Raccanello (LAW ’10)
1.What exactly is compliance and ethics, and why is it important?
Over the past several decades, enforcement authorities and multilateral development agencies have increased their focus on investigating and prosecuting fraud and corruption in various industries. Corporations are required to develop comprehensive ethics and compliance programs to adhere to an assortment of federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, to minimize risk and avoid legal repercussions and reputational damage. In addition to merely complying with the law, companies regulated by the Securities & Exchange Commission are required to have written Codes of Conduct that promote honest and ethical conduct—a standard that has now been adopted by organizations of all types, throughout the world.
In the current climate, high functional multinational corporations have dedicated ethics and compliance organizations led and staffed by well-trained professionals. These organizations design, implement and oversee measures intended to prevent, detect and respond to violations of myriad of laws, regulations, and industry and ethical standards. Ethics and compliance have become critical issues to CEOs, Boards of Directors, enforcement authorities, and employees themselves.
2.For incoming 1Ls and other students unfamiliar with careers in compliance and ethics, what should they know about potential opportunities in the field?
Compliance and ethics departments focused on detecting and preventing legal violations have significantly expanded over the last 20 years, creating opportunities for students, attorneys, and other professionals. Traditionally viewed as separate entities, fields of law and compliance and ethics have increasingly overlapped in recent years, opening career opportunities for lawyers in countless industries including health, securities regulation, technology, etc… Like lawyers, compliance and ethics officers need to understand the laws and risks related to their organizations. They also need to have a deep understanding of their organization’s operations and be able to design controls to detect and prevent legal violations. As this field has developed, compliance professionals often take on an expanded multi-disciplinary role in which they are not only expected to understand and implement programs to ensure compliance with the most important laws for their organization, but they are increasingly expected to be guardians of the culture encouraging ethical conduct. Communicating the importance of compliance and ethics to diverse audiences—board members, executive management and employees—is essential.
Many lawyers are now shifting into compliance and ethics roles and the white-collar bar is increasingly required to understand compliance and ethics as part of their daily work.
3.For those interested in getting involved in experiential learning opportunities while a student, what is available to them as a student? What coursework can best prepare them for work after graduation?
The Center for Compliance and Ethics at Temple Law offers a comprehensive curriculum in compliance and ethics: students may take Introduction to Compliance, International Compliance, Healthcare Fraud and Abuse, Drug and Device Law, Corruption and Investigations. The Center also recognizes that the best education allows our students to thoughtfully explore the big ideas as well as gain hands-on experience with the skills to be effective problem solvers. Our students may apply for compliance and ethics practicums at organizations like Aramark, Temple University Health Services, US Attorney’s Office, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Temple University Ethics and Compliance Office. They can also apply to the Center’s Summer Fellowship Program in which a first- or second-year law student participates in multidisciplinary teams and gains experience that will stimulate professional development to prepare the individual for a career in compliance and ethics. This competitive program provides an 8–10-week paid summer fellowship in the field of compliance and ethics.
4.The Center for Compliance was founded with a dual purpose to help students explore possible careers in compliance and assist academics in their educational pursuits in the field. How can students best take advantage of this resource?
Advancing academic research and thought leadership that is interdisciplinary is a founding principle of the Center. As the goals and challenges of compliance and ethics evolve, the Center seeks to lead the conversation by hosting academic events and promoting scholarship from legal studies, economics, management studies and social sciences. We encourage students to attend those events and symposia to take advantage of this resource.
Additionally, students who are interested in compliance and ethics should consider being teaching assistants for compliance and ethics courses such as the Introduction to Compliance course.
Beatrice Raccanello (LLM ’10) serves as the Director (Staff) of the Center for Compliance and Ethics. Her interest in compliance started in 2015 when she was a member of the Steering Committee of the Center for Compliance and Ethics to assist with the initial launch. She is eager to continue leading Center activities in providing student and professional education programs, fostering academic research and thought leadership, and advancing the public-private sector dialogue in this rapidly evolving area.
This article originally appeared in The Compliance Monthly feature of Temple10Q, Temple’s Business Law Magazine.