Recently a Corporate Counsel reporter decided to ask the five largest law firms
about their internal compliance programs, and was met by either 1)
platitudes or 2) crickets. In most cases, the reporter’s call was
transferred to the firm’s PR manager faster than you could say “billable
hour.” Nothing to see here!
This is curious, since you would think that law firms would want to show clients that their “expert advice” on compliance programs is backed by some institutional experience with such matters.
And the debate continues. Last week a law firm partner posted an “Apologia” for why law firms don’t have “typical” compliance programs (shorter version: they’re “special”). Although the author has produced a thoughtful and detailed piece on the many ways that law firms discharge their professional ethics responsibilities, we still hear crickets when it comes to the kind of meaningful compliance program envisioned by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations. (Hint: the Guidelines don’t have any “special” exemption for law firms, which are clearly covered as “organizations.”)