Compliance Careers Show Promise for Legal Employment

By Robert Half on June 9, 2015 at 3:00pm

Corporate legal departments across the nation are facing increasingly stringent government regulations, which means legal hiring managers are on the lookout for compliance specialists.

According to the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide, compliance specialists are in demand for legal employment at a range of different levels. These professionals conduct research on regulations, identify potential issues and develop compliance policies and procedures.

Legal employment opportunities for compliance specialists

Do you have what it takes to join the growing legal field of compliance? Depending on your level of experience, here are four hot compliance careers you might consider:

1. Compliance director

The compliance director’s job is to minimize compliance risk by ensuring the corporation complies with government regulations, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Dodd-Frank and the Affordable Care Act. The corporate compliance director may also be responsible for developing and maintaining the company’s code of ethics. Depending on the size of the organization, the compliance director may lead a full compliance administration team, which might include a compliance manager and one or more compliance analysts.

According to the 2015 Salary Guide, a compliance director with 10 or more years of experience can expect a starting salary between $107,000 and $135,750. That’s a 5.2 percent increase as compared to 2014.

2. Compliance manager

Similar to the compliance director, a compliance manager is tasked with ensuring the company complies with federal, state and industry regulations and standards. Additionally, the compliance manager often develops, communicates and regulates the company’s standards for legal and ethical conduct. This might include staff training and internal communications, as well as pinpointing possible areas of compliance risk.

A compliance manager may also lead one or more compliance analysts. The 2015 Salary Guide shows that compliance managers with seven to nine years of experience can expect to earn a starting salary ranging between $91,750 and $110,000 — a 4.8 percent increase over 2014.

3. Compliance analyst

If you’re relatively new to the compliance field, you might consider exploring a career as a compliance analyst. These specialists are generally responsible for researching compliance rules and regulations, identifying potential compliance issues and weaknesses at the company and collecting and analyzing relevant information. The compliance analyst usually reports to the compliance manager or director.

Compliance analysts with one to three years of experience can expect a starting salary between $52,500 and $71,250. That’s a 3.8 percent increase over 2014 starting salaries. Analysts with four to six years of experience can expect a starting salary between $67,000 and $84,500, a 4.7 percent increase as compared to 2014.

4. Compliance paralegal

If you’re currently a paralegal or legal assistant, you might consider exploring a paralegal career in the compliance field. According to the Salary Guide, companies are actively seeking paralegals with experience in compliance, and paralegals with specialized compliance knowledge are commanding higher starting compensation and receiving multiple offers. If you take on a paralegal career in a corporate compliance department, you can expect to support compliance managers and analysts by ensuring the company meets various mandates and regulations.

Legal hiring trends

It’s no wonder these and other compliance careers are in demand right now. In the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Chief Legal Officer (CLO) 2014 Survey, respondents identified ethics and compliance as the most critical issues they face. CLOs flagged regulatory/governmental changes and information privacy as the next most important areas of concern. In many organizations, these disciplines all fall under the compliance umbrella. So corporate legal hiring managers are actively seeking compliance specialists across the board.

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