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Times are good for businesses that provide corporate compliance training online. Los Angeles’ Legal Knowledge Co., for example, saw contracts for its Web-based Legal Compliance and Ethics Center (LCEC) double in the past year, to $100 million. It’s not hard to see why. Fueled by Sarbanes-Oxley, regulators are requiring corporations to adopt strict codes of conduct and to ensure that even rank-and-file employees understand and adhere to them. This requires training — often on a broad scale — in financial reporting, insider trading, codes of conduct and corporate ethics. For a corporation whose work force can number in the hundreds of thousands and may be spread across the globe, training online makes obvious sense. At far less cost than classroom training, online services enable a corporation to reach its employees wherever they are, control course content and materials, and track and document course completion. The Legal Knowledge Co. launched the LCEC in October 1999, and others quickly followed suit. Here’s a look at five companies that offer comprehensive suites of compliance training online. On the surface, all offer similar features: • Courses use any standard Web browser. • Lessons avoid legalese and are usually structured around workplace vignettes. • Content can be tailored to suit the corporation. • Tests ensure comprehension. • Tracking tools document usage. But the programs differ in several respects. Content and presentation vary, with some using only text and graphics and others adding audio and video. Course offerings differ in number and topics. Most vendors host programs on their own servers, but one of the five vendors profiled here does not. Pricing also varies, with some charging by the seat and others by the project. That said, let us look at the companies. Legal Knowledge Co. ( www.lrn.com) was founded in 1994 as a legal research service. Its Legal Compliance and Ethics Center was designed with input from general counsel and compliance officers at some of the nation’s largest corporations, says Dov Seidman, the Harvard-trained lawyer who founded the company: “The key difference is the origin of our product. We got these companies in the same room to work together.” Today, the LCEC offers 150 training modules covering more than 1,000 topics. Customers include the Raytheon Co., which signed with the LCEC in November to develop online training around its code of conduct, and E.I. duPont de Nemours and Co., which in September signed with the LCEC to provide training to its employees worldwide. A typical program illustrates lessons through a series of workplace vignettes, presented using simple text and graphics. In the course of each vignette, pop-up quizzes test comprehension. Some lessons include audio and video, although these worked poorly over a dial-up connection. Integrity Interactive Corp. ( www.integrity-interactive.com), founded in 1999, offers 22 courses covering more than 140 compliance topics. They use engaging stories to illustrate issues, backed up by a library of ethics and compliance documents, interactive exercises, and final exams. Integrity’s management team includes lawyers with experience in corporate compliance. Co-founder Joseph Murphy was senior compliance attorney at Bell Atlantic and also founded the Compliance Systems Legal Group. Winthrop Swenson, director of ethics and compliance, was counsel to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, where he helped develop the Federal Organizational Sentencing Guidelines. Programs have a lively and useful interface that combines text, photographs and audio. Audio loads and plays quickly, even over a dial-up connection. Each lesson carries the employee through five components: black-letter law, a brief vignette, examples from the real world, a checkpoint question, and a review of proper procedure. At the end, users take an exam, on which they must score 100 to receive course credit. Corpedia ( www.corpedia.com), founded in 1998, has garnered attention in the business community for its management programs from the likes of Peter Drucker and Tom Peters. But legal compliance makes up the larger share of its course inventory. Phoenix-based Corpedia offers in-depth courses it calls “compliance essentials” for both managers and employees, as well as single courses on a range of compliance topics, many of which can be purchased individually. Unlike other vendors, whose courses tend to follow the same format, Corpedia employs a variety of creative presentations. All are built using Macromedia Flash and run well over a 56K dial-up connection. Corpedia’s courses are the only ones reviewed that allow users to add and save their own notes. While some vendors’ courses come across as overly simplistic, Corpedia’s seem beefier. Content and interface work together to present lessons that are more informative than most. WeComply Inc. ( www.wecomply.com) describes its courses as “edutaining.” It uses cartoons to illustrate lessons and games to test comprehension. A typical program proceeds through a series of vignettes. Throughout, pop quizzes literally pop up, requiring the employee to answer before moving to the next screen. Pop-up screens also elaborate on terms and concepts. At the end of a lesson, games serve as final exams, with correct answers to questions earning points or movement around a game board. In July, WeComply released a program specifically tailored to code-of-conduct training. It covers workplace discrimination and harassment, e-mail and Internet use, retention of records, insider trading, and other topics. Unique to WeComply is that its programs can be downloaded to a PDA. Midi Inc. ( www.eyeonintegrity.com). Scalability and adaptability characterize the programs offered by EyeOnIntegrity.com, a division of Midi, in Princeton, N.J., a designer of high-end, interactive multimedia software. EOI’s programs can be delivered over the Internet or hosted on a corporate intranet and are scalable to the speed of the user’s Internet connection. Depending on their connection, employees can choose to see streaming video with audio, a streaming audio slide show with still frames captured from the video, or simply the still frames with text. They can switch to a slower or faster connection at any point in a program. The different formats provide exactly the same content, with the parts that are spoken in the audio and video versions scripted in the text versions. EOI does not host its programs on its own servers — its customers must provide hosting. Its programs run on any standard Web server, but large applications using streaming audio and video may require a second server. Robert J. Ambrogi, a lawyer in Rockport, Mass., is a contributing editor at Corporate Counsel magazine and author of “The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web,” available through LawCatalog.com. He can be reached at [email protected].
Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: What Lawyers Need to Know

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