Ted Banks on Moving from a Legal Role into Compliance [Podcast]


By Adam Turteltaub

Compliance starts with the law, but simply thinking like a lawyer isn’t enough.  Ted Banks, partner at Scharf Banks Marmor learned that lesson firsthand.

Today he is an experienced compliance professional who has worked in compliance at Kraft and served as a monitor for both the FTC and the Canadian Competition Bureau.  Compliance professionals engage him for his guidance.

But, many years ago, he was a lawyer new to compliance, and, as he tells in this podcast, made quite a few mistakes.

In this podcast he provides advice to legal counsel moving into a compliance role.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Remember that compliance work has legal content, but it’s different than the work that a lawyer does
  • Don’t treat employees like law school students
  • Learn from the manual for drivers from your local department of motor vehicles: It doesn’t cite specific statutes, but focuses on what to do and not to do
  • Concentrate your efforts on the key issues that have to be communicated, not every possible nuance.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the employees: make the training in their interest, ideally showing how this information will help their career
  • Try to insert compliance messages in training that isn’t compliance-related, such as sales skills courses
  • Understand the psychological principles of how to communicate with employees


  1. This article is so valuable! As someone who once made the transition from practicing lawyer to compliance professional (and leader) within an organization, the advice here makes so much sense! I particularly like, “Compliance work has legal content but it’s different than the work the lawyer does…” and “Don’t treat employees like law students.” It is so important to understand the compliance role and its place in the organization — a lawyer moving into compliance may tend to focus strongly on the “legal” aspects in the role. By the way, it is not a direct transition from “lawyer” to “compliance professional.” There is a new skill set to learn and apply.

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