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Ten Things: Building a Strong Compliance Department

If you work as an in-house lawyer at a large, mature company, odds are good that the company has a well-functioning compliance department.  But, if your company is small or not very mature, there is a good chance that this isn’t the case.  In-house lawyers constantly look for ways to avoid or lessen risk that can damage the company.  While it doesn’t always get the love it deserves, a robust compliance function is an important part of risk-reduction at companies of any size.  As such, in-house lawyers should get behind the creation of a compliance group if there isn’t one or enhancing the existing one whether it sits in the legal department or not.  A strong compliance department moves the company from reactive to proactive in detecting and preventing wrongdoing.  Besides avoiding trouble, this can lead to substantially reduced fines with regulators who, as a first step, usually zero in on whether the company has a robust compliance program or not.  The compliance department also helps establish the right ethical tone at the company, a tone that makes it easier for employees to make the right choices.  While many executives don’t see the value of the compliance function – despite the many proven benefits – the in-house lawyers do.  But, they frequently don’t know what to do next.  This edition of “Ten Things” walks through the basics of setting up or enhancing a compliance department:

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