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The University of Cincinnati College of Law devoted its 28th Annual Corporate Law Center Symposium to compliance. It was a timely choice, coinciding not only with an explosion of sector regulation in recent years but also with shifting market realities for legal employment and legal education. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are two prominent examples of major legislation that has added—and will continue to add—to compliance obligations for broad swathes of industries. Meanwhile, the financial crisis has spurred profound transformations in legal employment, including cutbacks in entry level hiring by large law firms and a concomitant surge of “JD plus” jobs in corporate compliance. In response, law schools have pirouetted (sometimes ungracefully) to establish compliance courses that position their graduates to compete for such jobs.

In the face of these changes, however, there is the potential to remake both compliance programs and compliance education. Even as new regulations are written, companies can re-conceptualize compliance in more holistic and paradigm-bending ways—rather than hiring lobbyists to wage war with regulators. By engaging with a broader set of stakeholders than traditional corporate constituencies, for example, compliance programs can better follow the law—and perhaps even anticipate the risks that regulations intend to address. Further, by espousing ethical values in day-to-day operations, firms can bolster both their reputations. This starts not just at the board room, of course, but also in the academic training of the next generation of compliance officers even before they enter the workforce.