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12 Sep

How Can a Legal Studies Degree Improve Your Work in Corporate Compliance?

Is a Master of Legal Studies Worth It?

If you work in any aspect of corporate compliance, you already know how important it is that your company follows government and industry regulations. You also know that this task grows more difficult each year. Entities pass new, ever more complex regulatory changes, making the process of achieving compliance increasingly difficult and costly. And this ever-changing regulatory landscape can introduce an element of strategic risk to any business enterprise, making your challenge in a compliance role even tougher.

A legal approach to corporate compliance training, such as a Master of Legal Studies (MLS) in Corporate Compliance, can help you to obtain the foundation of knowledge you need both to understand regulatory change and mitigate the risks associated with it. This flexible degree can lead to advancement in careers in compliance, human resources, logistics—anywhere that compliance with federal and state codes and regulations is necessary.

The Intersection of Legal Studies and Corporate Compliance

It used to be that only attorneys needed to understand the law on a granular level. That is no longer the case.

The truth is, compliance has become more difficult, in part because it is an industry in flux. It’s currently experiencing a fragmentation of advisory services that may do more harm than good, particularly if different experts give the same company conflicting advice.

At the same time, expectations that a company's compliance team perform diligently, and promptly, are higher than ever, with internal demands for a quick response to requests for information. And of course, both the media and shareholders are paying close attention to compliance narratives, making it crucial that companies get their internal regulatory monitoring processes in order.

The pressure to stay ahead of the curve is tremendous, and one of the best ways to do that is to become more knowledgeable about the laws that influence and impact compliance.

Understanding the Regulatory Environment

As a compliance professional, the main duty you will be tasked with is making sure that your company maintains regulatory compliance. That means adhering to any and all guidelines, regulations, specifications, and legal requirements that may impact how your company does business.1 You may also be asked to develop an internal system by which your company can monitor and report compliance initiatives.

Some of the regulations you may be asked to uphold include:

  • The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977 makes sure that foreign entities act in accordance with provisions in the Securities Exchange Act requiring transparency in accounting. The FCPA also addresses bribes to foreign officials. Third party risk management and supply chain management both encounter this regulation, as they routinely deal with foreign companies2
  • The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 requires that large retailers and manufacturers who do business in California evaluate and address the risks of human trafficking and slavery among workers throughout their supply chains. These regulations extend to direct suppliers, whose materials must be manufactured by companies that adhere to the same regulatory standard3
  • The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is an agency within the U.S. Treasury Department that drafts and enforces trade and economic sanctions against other countries, stipulating that American companies cannot sell goods or do business with nations under sanction4
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures that individuals will not face discrimination based on sex, race, nationality,5 and, in some cases, gender identification and sexual orientation6
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 contains a broad range of regulations designed to uphold worker safety across a number of different employment sectors, including the agriculture and construction sectors7

What makes regulatory compliance so challenging is that the laws themselves are often enacted, and amended, in response to economic catastrophe or political change. In other words, they are reactive and bound to change as the prevailing political and economic circumstances do.

Robotic process automation and big data are poised to create adaptive solutions to help corporations remain compliant throughout changes to the regulatory environment. Nevertheless, compliance officers and other individuals still require the legal knowledge to understand why these changes are taking place and how their business can respond.

Knowledge Is Power

More knowledge is always a good thing. But in the case of corporate compliance, it can be essential.

The Online MLS in Corporate Compliance from Santa Clara University School of Law gives recipients both a broad working knowledge of the law as it impacts regulatory change and the critical capacity to interpret how compliance affects corporate risk. Courses in enterprise risk management and metrics complete an education that begins with business organization and global ethics. With the Online MLS, you’ll have everything you need to help your company stay ahead of the regulatory curve, while at the same time advancing your own career.

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