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How Rome and Athens inform today’s company

Tom Fox | May 28, 2017

When one considers the Roman Empire at its zenith, one might think of it as what New York Times columnist David Brooks characterized as “a mighty fortress in a dangerous world,” whereas the focus of the Athenian Empire was more about debate, democracy, and “creative crossroads leading an open and fundamentally harmonious world,” Brooks wrote.

I thought about Brooks’ characterization as an excellent metaphor to explain the difference in roles between that of a corporate legal department and a corporate compliance function. Understanding these differences in roles helps to explain why a chief compliance officer should not be housed in legal, but rather should lead a separate corporate function.

The role of a legal department is to be the fortress that protects a corporation. It uses the legal tools...

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