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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Something New, Something Old, and Something Borrowed

Writing in the compliance space has been extremely rewarding for many reasons, but today I will highlight the new, the old, and the borrowed. 

Something New

Compliance is still considered new within legal scholarship.  Its newness makes it an extremely fun area to write in, because it is often the case that you are one of the first, or one of very few, academics who have written on a particular topic.  For me this has been most true, I think, with my work on corporate monitors (here, here, and here). There were certainly excellent articles (e.g., here, here, and here) written prior to my own work, but because there weren’t a large number or articles on the topic, I have been able to carve out a scholarly niche for myself.  As a result, when it comes time to have an academic speak or write on the topic of monitors, I often get asked.  I can’t always take on the opportunity, but it is fun to have something you are known for, and there is still quite a bit of room for that in the compliance area.

Something Old

And yet, many of the issues important for compliance today aren’t at all new.  A great deal of compliance scholarship is rooted in more established areas, like corporate law, corporate governance, and corporate criminal law.  The iconic Caremark decision is a case about compliance (see this symposium).  Within industry, compliance is an established field with a variety of “professional” organizations with hundreds of members.  This is nice, because while compliance is “new” within legal scholarship, it is also “old” in a way that provides a strong foundation for the scholarly work being done.  In one of my forthcoming articles, I use classic BA cases to serve as the basis for a new argument related to identifying the root-cause of compliance failures within organizations.  All that to say, you aren’t starting from scratch when you identify a problem to write about.

Something Borrowed   

Finally, because compliance is inherently interdisciplinary, it lends itself well to borrowing concepts from other fields.  For example, many compliance scholars spend a fair amount of time drawing on behavioral ethics research (e.g. here and here), which is a literature primarily found within business schools.  Additionally, I often find that when I present a paper someone in the audience from another discipline will suggest I read something that I have not come across, which turns out to be completely applicable to what I am writing about.  A couple summers ago, for instance, someone made a relatively offhand remark about how I should look at interagency coordination literature, which is in the administrative law area, and that literature ended up serving as the theoretical basis for my paper.

* * *

All that to say, part of what I like about writing in the compliance space is that it is new, but not too new, while allowing the flexibility to learn about a number of topics from other areas of law. 

Posted by Veronica Root on July 19, 2018 at 12:37 PM in Corporate, Criminal Law | Permalink

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