A compliance lawyer, more commonly known as a compliance officer, is someone who ensures a company is carrying out their operations inkeeping with the relevant regulatory obligations applicable to their business.
Compliance ensures the company carries out due diligence and operates within the legal framework for its industry whether in financial services, property, medicine or any other activity that is regulated.
Compliance roles are now gaining a lot of attention from those specialising in law, being seen as an exciting and alternative career within the legal sector.
This guide explores the key elements required for a career in compliance, including starting salaries, required qualifications and more, helping those considering this career to gain a deeper insight into what it entails.
Responsibilities for a Compliance Lawyer
The main role for this job is to ensure a company is in line with the relevant regulatory requirements. Whilst there are numerous different compliance positions available throughout multiple different industries, the responsibilities of people in these roles are usually quite similar.
The main focus for people in compliance is that the company operates both legally and ethically, being compliant with all the necessary regulations for their industry. In order to fulfil this role, you must understand any and all applicable regulations for a company, and have an in-depth understanding of how these regulations fit in with their business operations – including conduct of business, marketing, finance, operations, customer services, terms and conditions, data protection, money laundering, fraud and other criminal offences, and more.
In addition to this, those in compliance will also have to hold an in-depth knowledge of their industry’s ethical standards and practices, as well as reviewing their organisation’s risks, and the procedures put in place to reduce said risks.
Skills Required to Become a Compliance Lawyer
Regardless of the industry you’re working in, all those in compliance will have to hold analytical and decision-making skills.
This job position also requires continual learning, as industry regulations can change frequently. Therefore, those in compliance are perpetual learners within this role.
In addition to this, many companies prefer those who already have experience in the relevant industry, as this can often bring a further depth of knowledge when it comes to executing compliance.
Compliance officers and managers may regularly run training sessions for teams to ensure that they uphold the best practices for data protection, customer services and treating customers fairly.
The list of skills include:
- Good analytics and decision-making skills
- Understanding of the industry
- Understanding of the regulatory framework
- Good attention to detail
- Good at reading and analysing documents
- Good communication for feeding back to different stakeholders in the business
Starting Salaries for a Compliance Lawyer
The starting salary for a job in compliance can vary, depending on the candidate’s credentials and the company they are applying for.
UK legal recruitment firm Career Legal claim in a recent market overview for Risk and Compliance that:
“LPC graduates can at times command starting salaries of £35,000-£45,000 whilst there are still firms paying closer to £25,000 and looking for some experience at junior level.”
As with most professions, salaries appear to increase past this starting figure. In the same survey, Career Legal detailed the following salary progression for those in compliance:
|Senior Compliance Officer/Analyst||£40,000||£60,000|
|Entry Level Lawyer||£50,000||£75,000|
|Senior Risk and Compliance Lawyer||£60,000||£120,000|
|Head of Department/Risk Partner/General Counsel||£100,000||£400,000|
Qualifications Needed to Become a Compliance Lawyer
Compliance officer/management positions will most likely require the minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and some employers prefer those with advanced degrees either in law, business administration or similar. Advanced degrees are particularly sought-after for the higher-level compliance positions.
Those with a law degree will usually have an advantage over others candidate, as it shows that they already hold an understanding of the law and how it works – an essential skill for those in compliance positions.