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What does a Compliance Officer do?

For better or worse, we live in an age of litigation. There is very little that happens in the world today, that doesn’t fall under the regulatory control of some organization at some level. From the obvious, such as the highly regulated fields of banking and investments, to simple farming, there is a constant flow of ever changing rules and regulations that must be kept up with and adhered to. That is the realm of the compliance officer.

compliance officer

Basically a compliance officer keeps track of all the rules, regulations and contractual obligations that impact the business that they work for. Beyond that, compliance officers work closely with management teams, not only making sure that their organization doesn’t violate the rules, but that it is also taking advantage of any regulatory changes that might be a benefit.

A compliance officer will also assist in developing processes and procedures that will help protect the organization should issues arise. As an example, if a compliance officer worked for a construction company, part of their time would of course be spent in an advisory role, but they may also be called upon to do spot inspections of work sites as part of an internal audit team or develop checklists to be filled out by employees before beginning work. All designed to show that the company practices due diligence.

There is no one set path to becoming a compliance officer, as the requirements will vary very widely from one industry to another. The background required for working as a compliance officer for a bank would be greatly different than those needed by the compliance officer of a fertilizer company. However, it can be generally said that you will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or professional certification in a field closely related to the industry you are interested in working in.

That is to say if you want to work as a bank compliance officer you would need a degree in finance or accounting. If you are interested in working in construction you would need the applicable OHSA certifications.

With the steady growth of government involvement in business, compliance is a field that shows great growth potential and it is one of the more lucrative fields that can be entered without an advanced degree.

What does a Legal Assistant do?

A legal assistant and paralegal make important parts of the U.S. justice system. Their main function is to help lawyers prepare for consultations and courtroom proceedings. This work can include researching legal codes, judicial decisions and relevant laws or drafting court paperwork and contracts.

paralegal legal assistant

The American Bar Association (ABA) defines a legal assistant or paralegal as “a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”

You will need to possess a variety of skills and knowledge bases if you are thinking of joining this profession. Increasingly complex legal statutes and relationships have made it essential that you earn a degree or certificate from an accredited program.

Legal assistant or paralegal education

One of the most common routes to becoming a legal assistant or paralegal is to earn a paralegal associate degree, requiring about two years of study. Some schools also offer bachelor’s and master’s programs in paralegal studies. Another common method of entry, for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree in another area, is to earn a paralegal certificate. Finally, a small number of employers train their own legal assistants on the job.

Over 1,000 institutions in the United States offer formal paralegal training; about 260 of them are approved by the ABA, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Degree programs will combine paralegal courses with variety of other academic subjects. Certificate programs vary greatly but focus on legal subjects and issues. Some of these programs can take as little as a few months to complete.

Coursework can include legal research, criminal justice, technology for legal application and an internship. While graduation from an ABA approved program will not ensure employment, it certainly will enhance your opportunities and resume.

Legal assistant or paralegal career outlook

Modern legal relationships are complex and varied. As a result, there are a number of areas legal assistants can specialize in during the course of their career. Some of these specializations include family law, immigration, an intellectual property, personal injury, real estate and corporate law.

Nationally, legal assistants are a profession growing faster than average according to the BLS. However, competition is expected as many individuals seek to enter this career. Applicants with formal education will have the best prospects for employment.

Individual states have different requirements and conduct rules for professional legal assistants. If you are interested in the standards for your state, professional organizations like the National Association of Legal Assistants or the American Association for Paralegal Education can provide more specific information.

What does a Mediator do?

Mediators have the responsibility of bringing together competing parties to negotiate settlements and resolve conflict through dialogue or official proceedings. The mediator works in a variety of government and private sector industries to facilitate desirable outcomes for involved organizations, businesses, and persons. The goal of mediation is an outcome that is favorable to both parties.

Mediators are known by a variety of names such as mediation commissioner, ombudsman alternative dispute resolution coordinator, arbitrators and conciliators. If you are insightful, think logically, and enjoy conflict resolution, becoming a mediator may be for you.


Job requirements: finding middle ground

Competing interests bring to bear their best arguments, proposals, and documentation, with the hopes of obtaining a favorable decision within the context of mediation. Arbitration and mediation are best known as functions within the judicial system and in settling conflicts between management and labor.

Mediators seek to identify issues and concerns, facilitate communication between disputants, and guide participants toward a mutual understanding of the opposing viewpoint and an agreement that meets the needs of everyone. When an agreed upon resolution is reached, the mediator prepares settlement agreements. In many cases, the mediator administers an official proceeding in which evidence is submitted, relevant laws applied, policies and regulations considered and interpreted, and claims adjudicated.

Mediators are called upon to rule on motions, exceptions, and the admissibility of evidence. At times, mediators must find entirely on the side of one of the involved participants, while at other times, a compromise is forged and agreed upon by both parties.

Employment prospects in mediation

Mediation is an important function that facilitates the best possible compromise or outcome for competing interests and is expected to grow by 14 percent.

Educational prerequisites for a mediator

The required education to be a mediator in a judicial setting varies by state and the court. Mediators may be trained through membership organizations, independent mediation programs, or post-secondary schools. Advanced educational opportunities in mediation include everything from a certificate program through a local college, a 2-year master’s degree, or a 4- to 5-year doctoral program. Some mediators choose to earn a law (JD) degree.

Mediators in private industry and labor relations typically possess at least a bachelor’s degree in mediation and conflict resolution or a related field.