Jennifer Arlen and Geoffrey Miller launch the new Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement

In an era of billion-dollar penalties and international corruption investigations, corporate compliance and enforcement is one of today’s most dynamic legal areas. To keep pace with the thorny issues raised by this rising culture of compliance—and to understand the forces that created them—NYU School of Law has launched the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement.

Jennifer ArlenGeoffrey Miller

The timely and innovative initiative is the brainchild of co-directors Jennifer Arlen ’86, Norma Z. Paige Professor of Law, an expert in white-collar crime, and Geoffrey Miller, Stuyvesant P. Comfort Professor of Law, an expert in financial institutions and the author of the recently published The Law of Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance. "This is corporate law in the public interest and that's what I love about it," says Arlen. "Lawyers can serve the public whether they are prosecuting or defending corporations."

Consider some recent headline-grabbing fines resulting from corporate enforcement actions: Five banks, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America, together agreed to pay $25 billion in penalties and borrower relief over foreclosure processes abuses. BP is on the hook for $4.5 billion to the DOJ and the SEC in fines and civil penalties arising from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. These developments are not only important in their own right, they have also generated a great deal of work for lawyers. "At a time when traditional legal hiring is contracting,” says Miller, “White collar defense and compliance are among the law's fastest-growing specialties."

The new program promotes research on the effective enforcement of legal rules and on methods and strategies for enhancing compliance with applicable standards. It also hosts conferences and other public events designed to promote policy reform. Arlen has already held an international conference in Shanghai that explored issues including ensuring accurate securities markets, insider trading, and corporate compliance and enforcement in China. In April, she is hosting a conference on corporate criminal enforcement policy. This conference, co-sponsored with the American Law Institute, will bring together academics, enforcement officials, and defense lawyers to discuss criminal and SEC enforcement policy for individuals and firms to identify the central goals of enforcement and consider how policy can best be structured to achieve these goals.

Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of Financial Services in the New York State Department of Financial Services, will give keynote addresses. Other speakers will include officials from JPMorgan, General Electric, American Express; current and former senior officials from the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the New York State Department of Financial Services; and judges from the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of New York, and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. View the full list of speakers here.

The program, which has also held two Milbank Tweed Forums, one on insider trading and the other on the rise of compliance as a cutting-edge career, offers a robust list of courses. Students have the chance to study business crime, corporate compliance and risk management for attorneys, corporate crime and financial misdealing, the regulation of foreign corrupt practices, and the regulation of financial institutions with Arlen, Miller, and others. The new program will also sponsor three NYU law students each year who are interested in pursuing careers in compliance or enforcement. The inaugural three fellows, Reagan Lynch ’14, Tim Sprague ’15, and David Shieh ’14, are working closely with Arlen and Miller on a range of projects.

“This is a really exciting time to be working in corporate compliance and enforcement because of everything that's been going on in the news recently. It seems like every time you pick up the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal there's some above-the-fold story involving some large financial institution, whether it be a hedge fund like SAC Capital or a bank like JP Morgan,” says Sprague. “Every time I go in to meet with Professor Arlen to talk about the work we're doing, something that pertains to exactly what we're studying seems to be going on in the world of current affairs. So it's very exciting stuff.”

Posted March 14, 2014