Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Breaking into Compliance

I am currently in my 4th semester of a 2 year JD program con josh01/13/16
Although I was awaiting admission when I got hired, I do bel helloladies2101/13/16
For real estate consider working for a title company. You wi secondcareerlawyer01/13/16
Do you think I should complete the JD to take that route? josh01/13/16
A guy I graduated with did this for a year for pennies and t shikes01/13/16
Unfortunate I did not think of that route out of law school loblawyer01/14/16
There is another side/back door entry into compliance. Immi secondcareerlawyer01/16/16
secondcareerlawyer, care to discuss this in more detail via canon8301/17/16
Any chance you could expand on this? I have a lot of immigra codenameduchess01/17/16
Find SOMETHING in healthcare, even if not compliance off the daveykleinfeld01/17/16
Definitely advocate for finding something in healthcare but pherc01/17/16
If you're in the final semester of your JD program, as I und mrtor01/18/16
What's the best way to get into healthcare compliance? uncch01/18/16
Yeah, same question here. How you get a job in healthcare co losathon01/19/16
I've seen law school career services listings for entry-leve mrtor01/19/16
A lot of law schools offer Compliance focused courses. Take newbie101/19/16
There are tons of 6 figure compliance jobs out there they ar fompliance201/23/16
I have been noticing this as well. I have been doing a lot o elidedego02/04/16
good post madeleinejones08/08/18
Can't speak for finance sector compliance, but in healthcare onehell08/20/18
josh (Jan 13, 2016 - 2:12 pm)

I am currently in my 4th semester of a 2 year JD program considering dropping out after bombing a few finals last semester. Current GPA is barely above a 3.0. I do not feel there is any realistic point in continuing law school knowing I will graduate in the bottom third or quarter of my class.

I've heard that compliance is one of the few fields where a JD without bar passage or even a "partial JD" (law school drop out) is not an albatross to employers. My question is thus two-fold:

1) Should I drop out now or keep going and graduate with a 3.0 GPA?
2) How does one with no financial background break into compliance?

Thanks.

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helloladies21 (Jan 13, 2016 - 4:43 pm)

Although I was awaiting admission when I got hired, I do believe the JD helped (along with my prior experience in the industry - debt collection). I'm lucky they didn't want my transcript, I wouldn't be surprised if I was last in my class. But the previous two guys who held the position before me only had industry experience (no law school). So it is really going to depend on the company you're applying for. I don't think there's any way around it, unless you have stellar grades or a connection within the company, you're going to have to get some experience in the financial services industry if you want one of these positions. And then it's no guarantee.

As for dropping out, would you be OK with being a small law lawyer? I think bad grades can be overcome, but you're going to have to get good at getting the right people to like and respect you (networking). Papering everyone with resumes is like playing the lottery. Only a certain few win.

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secondcareerlawyer (Jan 13, 2016 - 5:21 pm)

For real estate consider working for a title company. You will learn the terms and phrases. The barrier to entry is also not very high. From there you can try lateraling to a bank.

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josh (Jan 13, 2016 - 5:43 pm)

Do you think I should complete the JD to take that route?

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shikes (Jan 13, 2016 - 9:11 pm)

A guy I graduated with did this for a year for pennies and then lateraled to a biglaw compliance position making bank. Not a natural route, but very doable. In fact, 4 people I graduated with started at the same title company for peanuts and all lateraled within less than 2 years to substantially higher paying companies (2 to firms as attorneys, one as compliance and one as in house).

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loblawyer (Jan 14, 2016 - 9:14 am)

Unfortunate I did not think of that route out of law school (quite interested in real estate and have some relevant experience). I am a few years out now and almost tempted to take the pay cut just for a chance to start over. These are the kids, guessing middle of the class from a non-elite school, who really got it right.

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secondcareerlawyer (Jan 16, 2016 - 2:47 pm)

There is another side/back door entry into compliance. Immigration - specifically EB-5 investor visa programs. I was talking to a colleague last night. She did transaction monitoring thru an immigration firm specifically handling eb-5 investor visas. Her work involved making flowcharts and spreadsheets of different LLCs and other entities to track the money which came mostly from China to buy up random properties in the USA.

Investor circles are setup in China as alternate investment vehicles (very popular since people are especially now concerned that the CCP is devaluing the YUAN and SHTF with the economy). People will pool their assets into trusts or other entities then send it here to the USA indirectly through various offshore intermediaries based in the Caribbean. From there, the money has to be tracked and placed into approved IOLTA accounts here in the USA. As I posted earlier the US government is only just beginning to rear its head into this matter as potential AML violations. http://www.jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=102031

The clients do not even care about the value of their real estate investments - they just want a legal exit out of the communist cesspool. Now replace China with Russia, Latin America, or various Middle Eastern countries and you have a global market although China remains by far the biggest user of EB-5 visas. As a background, the foreign investor is supposed to create 10 US jobs but in reality the real estate lobby pushed for a loophole then drove a 20 ton mack truck through it. The definition of US jobs was expanded to include construction worker jobs and that is why you see massive real estate bubbles continuing to be sustained in NYC, California, and anywhere else there is a heavy Chinese presence. In US Chinese newspapers there are also lots of EB-5 attorney ads sponsored weekly. I see them all the time. The US firms will run skype or other video conferencing sessions with translators if necessary in their rooms while their business partners in China collect the potential clients - for a finder's fee of course.

My point is that as attorneys there is work to be had if you have an immigration background and want to break into compliance. In fact it is very relevant and falls under the title of "transaction monitoring" which is a hot area these days in AML. You can expect starting salaries in the $40-50/hr range (more if you speak multiple foreign languages - particularly Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, and/or Spanish) at banks and other financial institutions. A background in this type of immigration syncs nicely with real estate too. The feds will be pushing a regulatory wave of hiring.

If you want to read more about this subject I recommend going over to Zerohedge.com where they have been covering this issue for years.

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canon83 (Jan 17, 2016 - 1:05 am)

secondcareerlawyer, care to discuss this in more detail via email? I'm more focused on the REG AB II matters as they relate to CMBS and RMBS, but think this is pretty interesting stuff. Throw away email is [email protected] Hope to hear from you soon.

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codenameduchess (Jan 17, 2016 - 8:50 am)

Any chance you could expand on this? I have a lot of immigration experience with people from that part of the world and I'd love to hear more about new opportunities.

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daveykleinfeld (Jan 17, 2016 - 12:43 pm)

Find SOMETHING in healthcare, even if not compliance off the bat. You should be making close to six figures within two years if you can sell your skills.

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pherc (Jan 17, 2016 - 1:04 pm)

Definitely advocate for finding something in healthcare but this claim needs to be modified. There will be significant regional variation in salaries.

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mrtor (Jan 18, 2016 - 10:10 am)

If you're in the final semester of your JD program, as I understand it, you might as well finish it. There's no point in wasting the time and money you have invested by simply taking a knee at this late of a stage. While a JD can negatively affect job searching in unrelated fields, I believe compliance is closely related enough for it to actually aid your candidacy. You need something to distinguish yourself from the hoard of candidates applying for these positions. A JD will help do that; an 18 month gap on your resume will not. Get the degree, pitch its strengths, and enjoy your career in compliance.

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uncch (Jan 18, 2016 - 7:07 pm)

What's the best way to get into healthcare compliance?

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losathon (Jan 19, 2016 - 9:20 am)

Yeah, same question here. How you get a job in healthcare compliance? What else do you add to the JD to make you competitive and what are the entry level job titles that we should be searching for?

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mrtor (Jan 19, 2016 - 11:54 am)

I've seen law school career services listings for entry-level compliance director and compliance manager positions with small companies. If you are not lucky enough to stumble upon one of those, you may have to start as a lowly compliance associate and attempt to work your way up the chain of command. Like any other position, you need to develop substantial experience in the field before the money flows.

The stories of six figure compliance jobs out of law school are the exception, not the norm. Compliance isn't an easy, golden ticket to a good life. The high-flying compliance gigs you hear some members talk about are every bit as elusive as BigLaw.

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newbie1 (Jan 19, 2016 - 1:00 pm)

A lot of law schools offer Compliance focused courses. Take them and put them on your resume. You will learn the basics and be able to speak knowledgably about the industry in an interview. Some schools offer a Compliance certificate upon completion of required courses. I would recommend going for the certificate however, some schools will charge you a fee on top of tuition for the certificate.

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fompliance2 (Jan 23, 2016 - 11:43 am)

There are tons of 6 figure compliance jobs out there they are nowhere near as elusive as big law jobs - also "lowly associates" big banks can make 6 figures they are not so lowly - (ny/nj)

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elidedego (Feb 4, 2016 - 12:07 am)

I have been noticing this as well. I have been doing a lot of independent digging while I have been networking in anticipation of graduation. Ignoring all of the healthcare compliance space and focusing on the financial services compliance space alone, I find a lot of the highest echelon of compliance practitioners seem to be former legal practitioners from firms, or come from a regulator (SEC/CFTC or the SROs) with a premium placed on those coming out of legal, with an ancillary premium being placed on those coming out of enforcement, and an even more ancillary premium being placed on those coming out of examinations. I am not sure if that is just the pre-existing trend, or if that is the permanent trend. I am not sure if they will turn to promoting more from within, or if they will continue to prefer those from larger/mid-sized firms and regulators. However, if the adverts are any guide, there seems to be a lot of potential to lateral around if you can get a decent breadth of experience, and most importantly, time experience.

I have also been noticing that AML/KYC and Anti-Bribery seem to be broken off at a lot of the firms from Risk on the one hand, and from other forms of Compliance (40 act, SEC/Finra regs, Erisa, Reg W, Volcker (and the rest of the alpha-bit soup of regulatory requirements) They seem to either report up to Risk or Audit or w.e. (likely because there are conflicts problems if Compliance is reporting up to Legal).

I mean, am I way off?

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madeleinejones (Aug 8, 2018 - 7:30 am)

good post

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onehell (Aug 20, 2018 - 3:28 pm)

Can't speak for finance sector compliance, but in healthcare compliance I've never heard of anyone asking for transcripts or an active bar card, and the JD or partial JD can be an asset. A partial one might even help convince them that you're not looking to jump ship or worm your way in to the legal department.

As to breaking in, aside from the usual networking type advice, there are certificate programs at universities the certification board has "accredited," and completing one of them bypasses the work experience usually required to gain certification. Certification isn't required, but it is respected and does help. You could augment the JD with this, or even drop out of the JD and enroll in one of these instead which would save a lot of money. A quick glance over the certificates indicates they can be completed for circa 20k. Not chump change, but likely a lot cheaper than finishing the JD:

https://www.compliancecertification.org/AboutCCB/Accrediteduniversityprograms.aspx

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