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A new study of corporate general counsel reveals that in-house counsel are lacking the resources they need to tackle compliance issues, according to Grant Thornton. One Grant Thornton professional noted that, "Corporate counsel are facing a variety of new regulatory risks every day," including fraud, data security, and ethics. He noted that, "perhaps because of these new risks -- corporate counsel do not feel they have the resources to keep up, perhaps creating a vicious circle of regulatory and litigation risk."
So, instead of running around like a hamster on a wheel, what can you do to better grasp compliance issues at your company? Here are four ways you company can get a better handle on compliance.
1. Hire a Compliance Officer
Since the Grant Thornton study indicated the importance of compliance issues to in-house counsel, it should come as no surprise that not only are compliance officers in demand, but their salaries are growing at some of the fastest rates in the legal industry. This solution may be best for larger companies who have the resources to devote a staff responsible for monitoring compliance.
2. Company Wide Compliance
Monitoring compliance is not just something that compliance officers do -- it should happen on a company-wide basis. That is, your company should have training at all levels about compliance basics such as what the company's compliance policies are and how to report problems.
3. Outsource Compliance
Like any other tasks, you could outsource compliance to outside counsel, but with the soaring costs of BigLaw, and the trend of keeping more work in-house, we're not sure this is a very cost effective solution.
4. Risk Litigation
The worst of all options, you could stick your head in the sand and wait to get sued. Let's be clear -- that is a bad idea, nonetheless the Grant Thornton study indicates that "one-third of organizations [surveyed] acknowledge that they do not have a robust [compliance] program, and that they are not building one." One Grant Thornton professional noted, "It is hard to imagine a government investigator -- or a jury -- accepting 'lack of resources' as the primary reason for failure to comply." We agree.
As you might have figured out, our options are listed from most desirable to least desirable. Clearly you don't want to risk litigation, but if companies don't provide their attorneys with the resources to monitor compliance, it's a risk they are taking on. As in-house counsel, it's your job to communicate -- and mitigate -- that risk.