Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Compliance or Claims??

Backstory: 2008 Tier 3 Law School Graduate, worked as an at sobeitunion04/14/17
I don't know about compliance - but I was an adjuster for 2 yytd04/18/17
Just curious - why'd you leave for small law? I'm mid-law d jd4hire04/18/17
I'll start with the potentially useful advice - there are a yytd04/18/17
Tough call. IMO, AML work appears to be rather volatile. It mrtor04/14/17
Idk much about compliance, but I know working as claims adju bucwild04/14/17
I am guessing there is truth in both mrtor's and bucwild's r jeffm04/14/17
Thanks for the responses. They are both in line with my cur sobeitunion04/14/17
I'd vote compliance. As you mention, entry level compliance thirdtierlaw04/14/17
I vote "compliance" as well if only because it's harder to g wolfman04/14/17
Yes, agreed. I think I'm a little scared about where I can sobeitunion04/14/17
Consumer law/udaap compliance is kind of fun. A mix of revie vohod04/14/17
I've been on the claims side for many years. Does GEICO pay hmmmm04/15/17
There is a profit share (assuming the company makes a profit sobeitunion04/15/17
Wolfman is on point Don't confuse AML with compliance, no fompliance204/18/17
AML is still at high risk of automation in the near future. mrtor04/18/17
What you said is true, however, replace the words AML and co alternativestats04/18/17
Thanks again to everyone for your insight. I've taken the co sobeitunion04/18/17
sobeitunion (Apr 14, 2017 - 1:07 pm)

Backstory: 2008 Tier 3 Law School Graduate, worked as an attorney for 3 years in Cleveland, OH doing commercial real estate transactions before being laid off. Spent the last 5 years scrapping it in bartending/restaurant management/corporate restaurant officer positions. I need to get out of the service industry, as I've been working 60-80+ hours a week and I've got a toddler.

I've got two job offers on the table:

1.) AML Compliance Analyst for a Compliance Firm (not in a bank - banks outsource to them). Salary is under the national average for sure - about $42,000 - in the Cleveland, Ohio area.

2.) Auto Damage Claims Adjuster for GEICO in an area for $45-$47,000 where the cost of living is significantly higher (rent would be between $300-$700 more per month).

I'm having a really hard time deciding which is the better opportunity. I've been reading a lot on these threads, but I haven't been able to make a decision. Both companies have pretty awful reviews on Glassdoor. Realistically, I would imagine both jobs would be a stepping stone to the next opportunity and not something long term.

What are your thoughts on a better opportunity for the long run? My end goal is to end up back in Northeast Ohio, I just don't need to do it right away.

Any insight would be appreciated!

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yytd (Apr 18, 2017 - 7:54 am)

I don't know about compliance - but I was an adjuster for 2 years after law school.

If you do adjusting, I'd expect you'd rise pretty fast. You'd go from PD, to low level BI, to Lit.

The pros about adjusting are you really do just leave it at work - it's a grind for eight hours but it's only 8 hours. Then you become a lit adjuster, and you'll have these attorneys groveling to you, willing to work for less and less.

To rise through the adjusting ranks, you'd also want to take a series of courses that are probably offered through the company, including CPCU. With CPCU and a JD, you should be in management in a couple of years.

By the end of my adjusting time, I was mediating claims in a large city with more than a half million in authority. I had a lot of good offers to continue to be an adjuster, and I would have made more money than I am now in small law. It's a good career path.

Until the robots take over.

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jd4hire (Apr 18, 2017 - 11:05 am)

Just curious - why'd you leave for small law? I'm mid-law doing primarily med mal defense, with other ID work mixed in. I'm working on obtaining my CPCU in an effort to bring in business and potentially provide a path away from the billable hour in the future - either with a carrier or large organization that needs litigation/ risk management. I would consider claims counsel for significant exposure cases. I have a buddy who manages outside counsel and flies all over the country for mediations/ arbitrations/ trials and I wouldn't mind that. Would sure beat grinding out discovery and fighting over 30 or 45 day orders.

Any suggestions, tips, insight for me?

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yytd (Apr 18, 2017 - 12:55 pm)

I'll start with the potentially useful advice - there are a lot of small carriers, especially in the surplus and excess market, reinsurance, specialty lines, where you can get a cool role like the lit guy who flies around. I would start looking there. I would get the names of companies from agent meetings and get togethers. There's a million types of insurance I never thought about, and a lot of different roles for a JD.

I think the CPCU is good, but it's not a magic bullet. Especially if you're doing defense and not coverage. You don't need your wide receiver to play cornerback.

It will come as no surprise, but it's more about your relationship with the individual adjusters and their managers. They don't care what happens with the cases as long as there are no surprises, but they want reports on time. They want to keep the cases moving. Don't .1 them.

Also, with legal bill audit software, you get compared to everyone else. So they know who sits on a file and who moves a file. The firm who can have their paralegals or janitors do the most work on the files is going to get the most business.

The claims counsel thing sounds cool. But instead of grinding our discovery, you're going to be grinding out reports to your supervisors. I don't know how prevalent a position like that is.

The main reason I left was because I wanted to be in the court room. In two years, I've had 3 jury trials to verdict. I guess it was a pride issue, I thought I could do the trial work and I hated, just absolutely hated how defense attorneys talk to you and look at you with their hungry eyes. I mean there are good business relationships where you enjoy the businesses you work with, and then there's some jerk off tying you up on the line trying to make small talk to bill you more.

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mrtor (Apr 14, 2017 - 1:20 pm)

Tough call. IMO, AML work appears to be rather volatile. It is highly political (boom when liberals are adding regs and penalties, bust when conservatives are removing them) and also seems to be at high risk for automation. Claims adjusting is a stable, long term career. I think there is also more room for growth in claims adjustment considering there are many mid and high level supervisory positions.

Personally, I would bite the bullet, take the claims adjuster position, and work hard for raises and a promotion.

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bucwild (Apr 14, 2017 - 1:43 pm)

Idk much about compliance, but I know working as claims adjuster is HARD. You're on the phone 8 hours a day, dealing with angry people who want money. Many times you'll deal w/ their attorneys. The stress and turnover rates are high. Additionally, you may be working with less educated coworkers. Many insurance companies only require a high school degree to be an adjuster.

Compliance work seems less stressful and more similar to the traditional office experience you imagined prior to law school. Additionally, it is likely easier to leverage into higher pay in compliance, assuming you're willing to move to an employer than won't lowball you like this one.

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jeffm (Apr 14, 2017 - 2:06 pm)

I am guessing there is truth in both mrtor's and bucwild's responses. Mrtor mentioned job volatility in the regulatory arena because the dems add lots of regulations, and then, the reps abolish them and leave compliance people out of work.

I don't know so much about the political influence on compliance, but economic cycles surely affect some types of compliance. For example, home lending can take a huge hit. It has plenty of times before, and it will fall again at some point. Compliance will probably tend to fluctuate with economic bubbles. Car wrecks will probably go on as usual until most everyone has an auto-piloted car.

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sobeitunion (Apr 14, 2017 - 2:03 pm)

Thanks for the responses. They are both in line with my current thinking - claims seems like it's more stable but definitely a more difficult work environment (especially in the beginning). Compliance seems a bit more risky long-term given the political environment and potential for further automation, but like the work environment would be better.

As to the salary - as is well-documented in this thread, entry level compliance jobs are hard to come by. This employer seems to be aware and thus underpays across the board because (1) there are really no other entry level compliance jobs, and (2) it's Cleveland, Ohio, so they can. I think my major concern with the compliance job is that the employer just doesn't seem to care much about the employees. But then I read on here how coveted compliance jobs are and it seems like I'm throwing a good opportunity away to get my foot in the door. Entry level claims jobs really aren't that hard to come by.

Sometimes it's better to have no options I suppose

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thirdtierlaw (Apr 14, 2017 - 2:17 pm)

I'd vote compliance. As you mention, entry level compliance positions are extremely hard to come by. Everyone wants someone with experience. It is also typically lower stress. Plus saving the extra $300-700 a month makes up the difference in starting salaries.

Automation is a concern. But we are still quite a few years off from that causing massive layoffs. Hopefully, by then you'll be in a management position where your J.D. will be considered an asset.

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wolfman (Apr 14, 2017 - 5:17 pm)

I vote "compliance" as well if only because it's harder to get.

Note that by "compliance" you really mean "bank AML" which has very different dynamics and market prospects than for example healthcare compliance or even Dodd-Frank stuff. I don't think AML, sanctions, and preventing terrorists from moving money is going away anytime soon... it was a GOP Congress that passed the Patriot Act, etc.

Maybe I'm biased, but unless you enjoy arguing with people over money, I'd avoid claims...

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sobeitunion (Apr 14, 2017 - 9:24 pm)

Yes, agreed. I think I'm a little scared about where I can take "bank aml" and that's what is holding me back.

I appreciate all of the insight. I just wish I'd found this site 8 years ago.

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vohod (Apr 14, 2017 - 9:38 pm)

Consumer law/udaap compliance is kind of fun. A mix of reviewing letters and listening to phone calls. A lot harder to automate. You interact with the collections attorneys, outside counsel, etc. a lot more than in other compliance roles.

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hmmmm (Apr 15, 2017 - 9:00 am)

I've been on the claims side for many years. Does GEICO pay a bonus or provide any other benefits? Carriers often pay a lower salary and provide generous benefit packages.

Yes, at the beginning, when you deal directly with insureds, claimants and body shops, there is a lot of conflict. As you are promoted you begin to manage people, policy and agendas and deal less with insureds and claimants. I never worked for GEICO and don't know their culture. Good luck!

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sobeitunion (Apr 15, 2017 - 9:38 am)

There is a profit share (assuming the company makes a profit) and traditional benefits. I think the one thing that is both beneficial and detrimental about Geico (depending upon one's perspective) is the breadth of responsibility. In the auto Adjuster position you have to handle the whole claim from start to finish, besides the initial phone call. So you are in the field appraising damage, handling rentals, dealing with total losses, and running a call center out of your (company) car. My research shows most companies give at least the total loss and rental components to others. Sounds like a lot of work. But also like extra transferable skills.

And then there's also the aspect of being free of a cubicle. Even if that is replaced by a car seat, there is a certain freedom that comes from not being tied to a desk and pseudo walls.

To complicate matters further, I've been getting a significant number of bites (3 out of 6 so far, and I just started applying to firms) on my resume from law firms too. I didn't think anyone would even interview me after 6 years out of practice, but I've got 2 interviews lined up for next week and had an interview with a firm this past week. I'm not bragging - just genuinely surprised and further confused.

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fompliance2 (Apr 18, 2017 - 7:09 am)

Wolfman is on point
Don't confuse AML with compliance, no one is touching AML, least of all trump, the only volatility in the market is the fines levied, has AML topped out in banking - probably but there's tons of growth to be had still in casinos, tech firms- think google, PayPal, venmo, bitcoins, plus real estate firms and hopefully hedge funds sometime down the road (pipe dream) heck I've even seen law firms post AML jobs recently.
My advice (very subjective) go to AML- last I remember jp Morgan has a few AML people out in Ohio so that may be an exit option

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mrtor (Apr 18, 2017 - 9:59 am)

AML is still at high risk of automation in the near future. The data collection, data organization and entry, and analysis of transactions, patterns and outliers are all things software can do rather easily (and often better and cheaper than employees). I have read that the average AML analyst spends about 75% of his time on mere data collection. That's ripe for automation. As the software continues to improve, there will be further cuts.

Compliance is a burden, not a revenue generator. Banks, especially, will continue to look for ways to reduce the cost of compliance. The development of improved software could wipe out most of the industry, save for the few analysis and judgment tasks that employees are still needed for.

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alternativestats (Apr 18, 2017 - 10:51 am)

What you said is true, however, replace the words AML and compliance with legal profession and the same thing would be true. Both fields are at risk for automation and spend most of their time on data/document collection. Pick your poison.

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sobeitunion (Apr 18, 2017 - 12:33 pm)

Thanks again to everyone for your insight. I've taken the compliance job. Worst case scenario I can switch over to claims or fall back on my law license (I'm licensed in Ohio).

I've got a final interview this week for an employment litigation position as well with a smaller mid-size firm. I think I'd take that over the compliance position. Call me crazy?

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