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The development compliance within businesses

Posted by: Laurence Simons 10/04/14

Compliance is a central part of many in-house lawyers' business. There are a variety of factors in this development, not least the fact that regulatory environments are becoming considerably more complex - particularly for businesses keen to invest in emerging markets overseas.

This has ensured that the legal department gains a great deal of internal power. According to Laurence Simons' latest research, 49 per cent of firms station their compliance function within their in-house law team, while 38 per cent have a stand-alone offering.

Most compliance workers are either from a direct legal background (38 per cent) or have been involved in a variety of roles depending on the industry being surveyed (34 per cent). A significant minority also have a background in finance and risk management.

Financial services is one area where compliance is extremely important - a recent study from the Financial Reporter saw 24 per cent of respondents citing this as a key concern.

In terms of future recruitment, 46 per cent of companies told Laurence Simons they will hope to bring in people with a legal background to lead their compliance team in the future, suggesting in-house lawyers could see a number of new roles emerge in this area over the coming years.

While knowledge of the specific industry and its regulations is obviously important, the general skill-set developed by general counsel is a good fit with the challenges faced by compliance professionals.

Matt Simmons, Director of UK In-house at Laurence Simons comments “Compliance continues to be a developing area for most businesses. The demand for first time European and global/regional head of compliance roles continues. However, there are also many junior level roles (typically from two to five years’ experience) being recruited, with companies either hiring from within other areas of their business or increasingly looking externally for those with existing compliance experience from another organisation”.