The Latest Compliance Development:
As a profession, regulatory compliance is about to enter its golden age.
Though unheard-of twenty years ago, the field continues to gain recognition
with the passage of each new regulation. Yet, despite an increasing number
of professionals working in compliance, few have studied the topic in an
academic setting. Most entered the field through self-study or learning on
the job—not unlike the legal profession before the 19th century. The field of
regulatory healthcare compliance is following the same path the field of law
did centuries ago and has begun to produce, through law schools, students of
the field itself. I happen to be one of them.
Prior to the late 19th century, most people entered the legal profession by
studying the law independently or through an apprenticeship.1 Abraham
Lincoln, after failing as a businessman, decided to enter law by reading legal
books like Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. 2 Mr.
Lincoln’s approach mirrored nearly every aspiring lawyer’s path during the
time and he went on to practice law with extraordinary success. 3 During Mr.
Lincoln’s lifetime, schools like Harvard, Yale and Pennsylvania State were
beginning to open legal programs; still, a formal legal education remained
the exception rather than the norm. 4
In many ways, Mr. Lincoln’s path is not dissimilar to how compliance
professionals begin preparing for their jobs today. Without a formal
education, many turn to educational aides like webinars, books such as
Associate, Aegis Compliance & Ethics Center, LLP. Mr. Whitney graduated with a J.D.
from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May of 2017. Mr. Whitney previously was
the Managing Editor for the Journal of Regulatory Compliance for the 2016–17 academic
1. Susan Katcher, Legal Training in the United States: A Brief History, 24 WIS. INT’L L.J.
335, 341–42 (2012).
2. Jack Nortrup, The Education of a Western Lawyer, 12 AM. J. LEGAL HIST. 294, 294
(1968) (referring to a letter Lincoln wrote in 1858 stating that “the cheapest, quickest and best
way” to become a lawyer was to “read Blackstone’s Commentaries . . . get a license, and go
to the practice and still keep reading.”).
3. He entered legal lore as a famous self-studier. See 3 THE HARVARD LAW SCHOOL 1817-
1917, at 48–49 (1917) (referring to the “example of Abraham Lincoln, who without any
schooling whatever had made himself a successful lawyer.”).