Beyond Compliance Officer: Roles for Today's Compliance Professionals
The world is getting more complicated every day, and nowhere is this more evident than in the world of corporate compliance. Regulations change with each fiscal year or legislative session, and the changes can affect company culture as well as company policies and practice.
In order to meet the growing demand for risk management and compliance professionals, Santa Clara University School of Law now offers an Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) in Corporate Compliance degree. Designed for individuals seeking a new career in the corporate sector or looking to advance their mid-career position, the program delivers a working knowledge of the law and helps students develop a better understanding of the ethical considerations involved in operating a business in accordance with it.
Being able to analyze and decode corporate regulatory laws in a way that promotes safety and mitigates risk is a skill required at a variety of levels throughout any organization, not only for compliance officers but in human resources management, finance, and risk management positions as well. Read on to learn how an Online MLS in Corporate Compliance can jump-start or accelerate your career in numerous compliance-related jobs.
Understanding the MLS Degree
A Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree is a relatively new offering in the field of graduate-level legal education. It goes by several names, including Master of Science in Law (MSL), Master of Studies in Law (MSL), Juris Master (JM), and Master of Jurisprudence (MJ).
This typically one-year degree arose to meet demand from those who need a working knowledge of the law even though they have no intention of practicing it. Candidates often take a combination of general law courses—often the same or similar to the courses first-year law students take—and more specialized classes that explore the intersection of law and regulatory practice in a specific area, such as healthcare or corporate compliance. However, other programs, like the Online MLS in Corporate Compliance from Santa Clara Law, consist of entirely original content that does not include general law courses; it instead consists of competency based training in areas most relevant to corporate compliance.
Beyond Chief Compliance Officer: More Roles for MLS Recipients
The chief compliance officer (CCO) is a company's expert in industry-specific regulations and how these laws impact corporate practice. The CCO’s role is both to develop policies that ensure compliance and to present assurances to the chief executive officer and board of directors that compliance goals are on target.
However, particularly in larger companies, the chief compliance officer does not work alone. Some other typical corporate compliance roles are as follows:
- Compliance and risk managers conduct periodic audits or company reviews to ensure compliance goals are being met, identify problems, and direct internal investigations when there is a compliance breach. In industries like finance, they control the company's exposure to financial uncertainty by making sure that SEC regulations have been met
- Compliance consultants and advisors are industry and regulatory experts who advise companies about best practices in compliance strategy. Although companies sometimes hire an outside firm that specializes in compliance, larger companies sometimes employ their own consultants
- Compliance managers, who may report to a compliance director, ensure that the company adheres to state, federal, and industry standards. Like other compliance officers, they need to have both a deep understanding of industry and government regulations and a strong sense of integrity
- Risk and compliance associates help to carry out the compliance manager's agenda. They may lead trainings or help draft internal documents
- Compliance specialists assist with the implementation and development of the company's compliance programs. They may also be responsible for making necessary updates to manuals and internal documents and responding to communication from regulatory agencies
Compliance by Another Name: More Positions for MLS Degree Recipients
There's a reason compliance jobs are on the rise, and it's not just that the regulatory environment has become more strict. Compliance can have a profound effect on company culture and, just as importantly, on the public's perception of a corporation.
Thus, an MLS in Corporate Compliance can be an asset in careers that may not have "compliance" in the title but nevertheless require the specialized knowledge of how regulations intersect with industry practice. Here are just a few titles for which the MLS degree may be useful:
- Human resources managers make sure that a company complies with state and federal regulations regarding worker rights and safety
- Financial analysts, even at the entry level, may be tasked with analyzing financial documents to check that compliance standards are being met. They may also be involved in risk mitigation for the company
- Financial managers are responsible for the company's financial health and, as such, must understand how the current regulatory environment impacts their organization's investment strategies
- Risk mitigation directors facilitate company-wide risk assessments and monitor the top risks in each department
Do You Want to Work in Compliance?
If you think that earning an Online MLS in Corporate Compliance from Santa Clara University School of Law limits you to a role as a compliance officer, keep in mind that government and industry regulations have become complex enough to warrant the need for middle management-level jobs and even entry level positions with legal expertise, particularly as it relates to corporate compliance.
And the best part? A career in corporate compliance is something you can feel good about. With your legal knowledge, you can work actively to protect your company's bottom line while at the same time helping to protect your fellow workers and even, in some cases, the world you live in.