There are, of course, many lawyers in compliance. They typically enter the field after stints as prosecutors, white collar defense lawyers, or after careers in law firms and the general counsel’s office. Less typical, and arguably wrongly so, are attorneys who have been in the military’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.
In this podcast, Matt Reid, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for iron and steel producer Bradken, shares his journey from JAG to compliance officer, and, as he explains, his time in the JAG Corps was better preparation than many would think.
Practicing law in the Army gave him the opportunity to experience an enormous range of experiences. He worked as a prosecutor in Germany and defense attorney in the DC area. While stationed in Egypt, the position consisted of what the military calls “administrative law” but is very similar to compliance. He regularly dealt with issues such as conflicts of interest and export controls, for example.
When he joined the civilian world he was surprised by the similarities but also one key difference: the power of the compliance officer, particularly in healthcare As he explained, in the military he was an advisor to the commander, who ultimately made the final decision. In civilian life he discovered that saying “no” to something had much greater impact and there is a need to be careful to be judicious in the word’s use. Instead it’s better to use “yes, but” and work with the business team on finding a solution.
Fortunately, that’s a skill JAG officers learn and one of the reasons why he is an advocate for bringing more former military attorneys into the compliance profession. They are expert at finding solutions that accomplish the mission while still falling within the lines.
Listen in to hear more of his fascinating experiences and insights, and maybe change your perspective when next looking to add a member to your compliance team.