Ed. Note-This week I have a special five-part podcast series on the Bard and Compliance, how Shakespeare informs a best practices compliance program. Each podcast will be short, 8-10 minutes and on one topic. The podcasts will be released daily at 10 AM on my site and on JDSupra. However if you want to download them all and binge listen or listen straight through all five episodes, you can do so at the Libsyn site, the FCPA Compliance Report or on iTunes. I hope you enjoy them.

What is the most famous line in Shakespeare about lawyers? That is an easy one because lawyer-haters across the world (and lawyer-lovers as well) know it – First thing we do is kill all the lawyers. It comes from Henry IV, Part II. Most lawyers understand that by killing all the lawyers, it will create an atmosphere that would allow for tyranny and anarchy. Unfortunately this clear import is not as widely seen by civilians (i.e. non-lawyers).

While I think the debate about whether the compliance function should be located in a company’s legal department or in a separate compliance function has largely concluded that it should be independent because of the difference in the two discipline’s mandates; many in a corporate compliance function came from the General Counsel’s office or have legal training. The lack of law schools providing training in leadership skills has led to a paucity of such proficiencies in my brethren.

Byron Hanson, in an article in MIT Sloan Management Review, entitled “Leading by the Numbers”; discussed the sometimes difficult transition financial professionals have to make when moving to broader leadership roles. I found some of his insights to be useful to the lawyer moving from a corporate legal department or large law firm into a leadership role in a compliance department.  He listed five changes needed which I have adapted for lawyers. 

  • Transition 1 – From Expert to Leveraging Expertise
  • Transition 2 – From Apprenticeship to Coaching
  • Transition 3 – From Reporter to Translator
  • Transition 4 – From the Right Answer to Multiple Possibilities
  • Transition 5 – From Value Protector to Value Creator

The ability to critically think is still the gift that most US law schools bestow on their graduates. That ability can serve you well as an in-house lawyer and as a CCO. However, the mandates of the legal department and the compliance department are so different and in many ways divergent that the transition from one to the other is not always guaranteed to be smooth. Hanson’s article gives some fine pointers that every lawyer should consider when they make the move to the CCO chair.