SMNR: Business Scandal and Crisis Management: Case Studies in Compliance

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Day Time Location
FRI 9:50 - 11:40 am TNH 3.129

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Many law school courses deal with the role of the “outside” lawyer in counseling clients and, often, representing clients in a litigation setting. This course deals with the compliance function—described by one author as the function that establishes and confirms “conformity between . . . action and a rule or standard,” the latter being determined by law, regulation or an organization’s policies.  The compliance role within an organization principally focuses on avoiding problems (and resultant crises for the organization) by establishing policies designed to ensure that personnel conform to legal and regulatory requirements, counseling personnel when questions arise and establishing “early warning” systems to detect and respond to instances of possible malfeasance. It is also one of the organizational roles currently providing the most employment opportunities for lawyers—a law degree (or bar admission) may not technically be required to serve as a compliance officer, but it is increasingly seen by organizations as desirable, and is often becoming a requirement. The course will examine the role of the compliance function within a corporation or other organization and its relationship to other organizational roles and to regulatory agencies.  It will also examine a number of current or recent situations in which problems—crises for the organizations involved—have been uncovered and will consider how more effective compliance programs might have unearthed them earlier, in time to avoid the crisis. Quite often (and contrary to the popular image), the best service a lawyer can perform for her client, but one that is invisible to public awareness, is to foresee a potential issue and adopt changes that avoid its occurrence. This course will provide some of the tools useful in that endeavor. The course is offered as a seminar for up to 16 students and will require a final paper submission (in lieu of an exam), as well as a short mid-course paper to provide an opportunity for earlier feedback. Course materials will be provided by the instructor and there will be no casebook..

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