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Cost-effective compliance (Part V) – staffing issues

In this final posting in a five-part series on cost-effective compliance, Jeff Kaplan examines staffing issues.

A critical component in maintaining an effective compliance program is expertise, and for some companies – particularly large ones in regulated areas – there is no substitute for bringing a true compliance expert in house. But many other companies may not have that option.

For those in the latter category, an “outsourcing” arrangement with a law firm may prove to be the best (and possibly only) approach to maintaining an effective compliance program. Specifically, such an arrangement might involve the firm providing ongoing legal services regarding key program components – e.g., training/other communications – for a negotiated monthly fee.

For instance, in the keenly important area of encouraging reports of suspected violations and responding to such reports, the law firm could provide the company with:

o Drafts of ongoing company communications to employees regarding the importance of reporting suspected misconduct;
o Guidelines for the investigation of misconduct; and
o Perhaps most significantly, advice on and management of both the conduct and resolution of individual investigations and other compliance matters.

Likewise, in the area of risk assessment, the law firm could provide an initial and annual update of a compliance and ethics risk assessment for an organization.

Needless to say, this is not the same as having an in-house attorney with true expertise providing these and similar services on a full-time basis. But many companies are simply unable to attain the ideal when it comes to compliance staffing, and for such companies an outsourcing solution of this type can be a life saver.