The Wells Fargo and Volkswagen scandals have once again highlighted the importance of an ethical corporate culture and an effective compliance program.  Compliance and ethics departments focused on detecting and preventing legal violations have significantly expanded over the last 20 years, creating opportunities for students, attorneys and other professionals.

This growth has resulted from a number of key developments.  The Caremark decision in 1996 emphasized the role of Board members in overseeing compliance programs, while the U.S. Sentencing Commission reinforced the importance of effective compliance programs in sentencing decisions.   Multi-billion dollar prosecutions in the pharmaceutical and financial services industries have resulted in rigorous compliance programs and put CEOs and Boards on notice that compliance is a front and center issue.

These long term trends have placed a premium on hiring talented compliance professionals.   In a January 2014 article (“Compliance Officer: Dream Career”), the Wall Street Journal reported that HSBC added 1600 compliance employees in 2013 while the Financial Times declared in 2014 that “the age of the compliance officer” had arrived.  Like lawyers, compliance officers need to understand the laws and risks related to their organizations.  They also need to have a deep understanding of their organization’s operations and be able to design controls to detect and prevent legal violations.  Communicating the importance of compliance to diverse audiences – Board members, executive management and employees – is essential.

Many lawyers are now shifting into compliance roles and the white collar bar is increasingly required to understand compliance as part of their daily work.  In 2015, Temple Law launched the Center for Compliance and Ethics with a mission to enable students to understand and prepare for compliance careers and to assist lawyers and professionals to further their careers in compliance.  The Center also serves as a forum for public-private sector dialogues on compliance issues.  The Center’s Advisory Board includes numerous compliance leaders from companies, law firms, accounting firms and the public sector.

Temple students may now take courses as part of an overall compliance curriculum. As part of the Center’s Summer Compliance Fellows program or through an experiential learning practicum, students may gain experience working on compliance issues at organizations such as Aramark, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Chubb, Ernst & Young, Moody’s, Novo Nordisk, Olympus, Sun Pharmaceuticals, Tabula Rasa Healthcare, Temple University Health System, TrustArc, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO).