Bringing the FCPA Into the Law School Classroom
Michael Koehler is taking the tough, straight talk about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that he has used for years in his popular FCPA Professor blog and bringing it into the classroom.
Koehler and Southern Illinois University School of Law announced that Koehler is teaching a course this semester that he designed specifically to address the FCPA. It is believed to be the first course of its kind, the school said.
“It’s meant for future business lawyers, even if they are not practicing in the bigger cities,” Koehler told CorpCounsel.com Tuesday. “If they are advising companies doing business in India, China, or other countries, then this is still a fundamental skill set for them.”
Koehler said he used his soon-to-be published book, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014), as the basis for developing the course.
“It talks about the FCPA and enforcement in a unique way, in much the same way that I talk on my website,” Koehler noted. And the way Koehler talks on his website is, well, probably the same blunt and direct way some general counsel would talk about the FCPA if they knew no federal official was listening.
Koehler has often criticized the disproportionate power that the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission wield over companies in FCPA cases. He believes this power allows the government to win on untested theories of law because most companies prefer to settle rather than fight.
Asked why he would design a class to deal with just one statute, Koehler replied, “Because the FCPA is a specific, unique, growing, dynamic, niche practice affecting companies across all industry sectors, private and public. It’s fundamental law that future lawyers need to have to guide companies in the global marketplace.”
Besides, he said, students are not only learning the nuts and bolts of the FCPA, but also gaining practical legal skills, conducting risk assessments, learning about negotiating settlements and non-prosecution agreements, and implementing best compliance practices that will serve them on a broader scale. The class will also offer “a window to explore corporate criminal liability, and DOJ and SEC enforcement procedures,” he added.
Koehler also plans on having experienced practitioners appear in class to discuss real-world problems and share their struggles. So far the class is open only to SIU law students.
“Law schools are often criticized for a lack of skills-based courses on current and trending areas of law,” Koehler said. “This is a very small first step in addressing that need.”