5 things law firms are looking for in their risk and compliance professionals
Obviously there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to what law firms are looking for. Functions differ in structure, firms differ in risk profile and every team will have a different culture, but certain themes are requested time and time again as law firms work to build their risk and compliance functions.
A commercial approach to Risk & Compliance
Yes there are rules and you are paid to know them, but no business wants to just create an extension of the regulator within their own business, you are not the compliance police. Every firm will have a different risk appetite, but they can only work within their risk appetite if they are able to understand the risks with which they are faced. At the end of the day you are on their side. You are there to protect the business and facilitate it to take the risks it feels comfortable taking.
Strong stakeholder management
The fee-earners are some of your primary stakeholders and no risk and compliance role comes without the need to have difficult conversations with these stakeholders. Often it may seem that your interests are misaligned and competing. A partner wants to bring in work which you may be suggesting they don’t for risk reasons. Law firms need their risk and compliance professionals to be able to bridge this gap.
They must be able to empathise with their stakeholders, understand the pressures and stresses they are under and help them to see that you are actually all on the same side. Whether you are helping them avoid wasting 2 weeks billing time against a matter they will subsequently be conflicted out of, or you are preventing a partner from risking their practicing certificate, you are ultimately there to help them bill more in the long term.
A genuine passion for Risk & Compliance
Your potential future boss and colleagues are passionate about risk and compliance, that’s why they are still working in this space. Passionate people want to hire passionate people, it is as simple as that. They do not want to be working alongside people who would rather be elsewhere, so you need to make sure you demonstrate this enthusiasm.
A team player who’s happy to get their hands dirty
Some of the work in this space is less exciting, but there are times when it’s all hands on deck. You may have taken on a new senior BAU role due to the opportunity to get involved in higher level project work, but if a new merger or team hire means the volume of onboarding is beyond what it normally is, the best of the seniors should get stuck in alongside their junior counterparts to share the load.
An ability to admit when you don’t know the answer
No one knows everything, especially in the ever changing world of risk and compliance. But being too proud or scared to admit when you don’t know is in itself a risk!