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What is the rationale behind the decision to place managing partners in charge of compliance?
Helen Bunker (HB): In many SME law firms, the managing partner is the obvious person to take charge of compliance as the firm generally does not have the resources to support a separate compliance function. Also the managing partner has access to people and all data - both tangible and intangible. Nothing should be off limits to those dealing with compliance and no questions should be able to be avoided, so this is the person who can ask questions and see the bigger picture. In a smaller practice especially, they are the people who know what is going on.
Iain Miller (IM): When COLPs first had to be appointed there was much discussion on whether a firm should appoint the managing partner as its COLP or someone else. In most firms the decision of who to appoint came down to a personality/availability issue and the question of who was best fitted to fulfill the function. The rational of appointing a managing partner to the role is that they are very directly involved in the management of the firm and are abreast of everything that is happening within it, so are best placed to make decisions about compliance. In governance terms, it might be better to have someone else, but then they may not be as familiar with the daily nitty gritty of the firm which could be difficult if a problem arose (especially if things were moving quickly).
In your experience, what process do firms go through when deciding on who will be in charge of compliance?
HB: The decision on who will be in charge of compliance is a challenge as the time commitments involved can be significant and hard to plan for. The person in the COLP role needs to be available to deal with situations that suddenly need attention, and this is harder if the person in the role has a
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