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Compliance is “the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen or to coercion; conformity in fulfilling official requirements.” –The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, financial services companies of all sizes face a new regulatory reality. The Dodd-Frank Act, and related developments like Basel III and a flood of pronouncements from the Financial Stability Board, the Bank for International Settlements, and International Organization of Securities Commissions, have resulted in a massive increase in the need for compliance professionals who are attuned to the specific needs of the financial industry.

What is a compliance attorney? An exact definition is hard to pin down. A compliance attorney must bring more than just legal knowledge to a company. She must understand the fields of business management, human resources, and risk management. The key to the compliance attorney’s superiority is that the attorney understands and anticipates the potential downstream legal ramifications of each issue before her.

Unique client interactions.  Another unique aspect of the compliance attorney is the way in which client interactions occur. A litigator is sought out when a problem has already happened, and a transactional attorney is summoned when a deal is in the works. But a compliance attorney comes in before such situations arise. Conducting business in accordance with governmental and contractual obligations can stave off future courtrooms visits, and sound financial fundamentals resulting from lower litigation fees can put off the need to seek investment knights to keep the doors open. The compliance attorney represents the legal frontline for many organizations.

 A compliance attorney does not need to necessarily “practice law.” This distinction may scare off law students who daydream of future Supreme Court nominations. But an employer looking for knowledgeable staff who will reduce its legal risk by improving operations will not care about this distinction. Law students and lawyers often forget that what matters most to companies is the bottom line. Although licensed in my home state, I primarily work in a consulting capacity with clients across the country. While I might not be practicing law on many engagements, my legal training influences how I provide consulting help to clients.

 A solid knowledge of contractual and administrative law is a must. Furthermore, an understanding of discovery rules and evidence is crucial for identifying risks before they manifest. Remember – each business has its own unique set of risks and rules. The prospect of someone who understands the industry and also understands its legal risks presents a solid investment for an organization.

  • Data Privacy
  • Legislation & Administrative Rules
  • Regulatory Counsel
  • Training Seminars & Custom Reference Material

Our Financial Services Compliance practice advises financial institutions as well as companies that offer financial products. We actively advise on a wide range of compliance issues, including legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Act, permissibility of activities and investments; anti-money laundering compliance; regulatory investigations and enforcement actions; regulatory processes for the transfer of assets in banks, including affiliated transfers; matters impacting non-bank lenders and other financial institutions; and the regulatory requirements for compliance in relation to such matters.

An important and growing aspect of the group’s practice involves tracking rapid market and regulatory changes. Regulators in the US have engaged in a significant overhaul of their regulatory systems as a consequence of the global financial crisis.