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Friday, July 13, 2018

Teaching Compliance

During bar study, July 4th is a big “you don’t have much time left” marker, and that is how I feel about the academic summer.  As soon as the fireworks have died down, I start thinking about teaching.  I love teaching.  I love teaching Contracts to 1Ls, in part, because it is hard to imagine a greater privilege than being able to help introduce the law to a brand new set of students.  But I also love teaching my Compliance course, because it allows the students to confront legal issues that are still being debated and determined.

Developing my Corporate Compliance & Ethics Seminar was both exciting and challenging.  At the time I started teaching it there was one compliance casebook (it is excellent), but I wanted to use a different set of materials for a seminar.  As many of you know, coming up with a set of materials for a course from scratch is time intensive, but it is also very rewarding, particularly when it overlaps with your scholarly interests. 

I decided to break my course up into modules and to use case studies as a vehicle for learning each concept covered.  Module I covers introductory materials like the Organizational Sentencing Guidelines, the importance of self-policing, as well as some background reading in behavioral ethics.  In Module II, we go through different actors within compliance efforts, like regulators, gatekeepers, and whistleblowers.  In Module III, we cover substantive compliance areas.  I have traditionally covered the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Antitrust, the False Claims Act, and Title IX.  In Module IV, I merge the theoretical concepts we have learned in class with some more practical concerns.  This latter module has changed each year I’ve taught it, with last year focusing on conflicts of interest and sanctions for compliance officers.  Finally, I weave in coverage of applicable Model Rules of Professional Conduct throughout the course.  

In other words, there is a whole lot of information crammed into a 14 week course, but it has generally been quite successful.  I use some classic exemplars for case studies—like Enron and Siemens—but I also use current events when I can.  For example, during last year’s whistleblowers class, I put together materials from the Wells Fargo scandal.  The mix of (i) case studies, (ii) theoretical background reading, and (iii) Model Rules has sparked intensive discussions about the role lawyers play within compliance efforts and where the boundaries should be when defining the scope of responsibility that lawyers should have for ensuring successful compliance programs are created and developed.  It is fun to teach, and the students seem to enjoy the concepts learned.  And because this is a class where the law is still quite dynamic, I’m looking forward to amending my antitrust and whistleblowers sections next week!

Posted by Veronica Root on July 13, 2018 at 08:27 AM in Corporate, Criminal Law, Teaching Law | Permalink

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