Law-related employment for grads from American law schools isn’t exactly robust. In 2013, the ABA Journal said, only 57 percent of the that year’s JDs had full-time bar-passage-required jobs. At the same time, the world seems to have an insatiable appetite for compliance officers. That sounds like an opportunity.
Law schools could start producing compliance professionals by offering JD candidates upper-level courses and practice clinics. It’s not far fetched. Although no fresh JD will have mastery of anti-corruption laws, AML, antitrust, trade sanctions, and so on, they can know enough about the nuts and bolts of compliance itself to be useful and productive.
Teach them the hallmarks of an effective compliance program and how board and management oversight are supposed to work. Teach them how to train employees. How to identify and assess the risks of intermediaries and how due diligence is done. Teach them about feedback loops, internal reporting, and whistleblower laws and programs.
If the new JDs know those things on graduation day, they’ll know more about compliance than most lawyers decades their senior.
Law schools, as far as we know, haven’t caught on to the great employment prospects for compliance professionals. Sure, a few places are teaching courses about the FCPA and other white-collar criminal laws. Our contributing editor, Elizabeth Spahn, pioneered some of those courses. (One of her former students told us not long ago she’d landed a great compliance job at a well-known bank.) But aside from a few isolated examples, the concept of training students to be compliance officers hasn’t taken root in the law schools’ curricula.
A track to produce ready-to-go compliance pros would be exciting to design and teach. And we think plenty of JD candidates would jump at the chance to acquire marketable knowledge and skills in a practice area they could feel good about.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.