Global Ethics + Compliance

“They are extremely business-minded and wonderful partners. They are efficient, effective and provide actionable advice.”
Chambers USA 2018

Companies of all sizes and at all stages of development face complex, often high-stakes compliance challenges. These companies include:

  • startups whose risk profiles may be low or rapidly growing, who want to get ahead of risks and embed a culture of compliance early, and/or whose investors are demanding the design and implementation of a right-sized compliance program;
  • growing companies seeking to understand and mitigate their changing risk profiles as they expand into new geographies or business lines, and/or who are seeking to implement an appropriately risk-based compliance program as they prepare for an IPO; and
  • large multinational companies operating in high-risk regions around the world who want to stay ahead of the ways in which changes to the business impact risk, to assess the effectiveness of their compliance programs, and to benchmark against their peers.

MoFo’s Global Ethics + Compliance group helps clients act proactively to design, implement, and test comprehensive, ethics-based compliance frameworks — often increasing efficiency and profitability along the way.

Our Global Leadership
  • Stacey Sprenkel – Global Chair of Ethics + Compliance based in San Francisco
  • Hayley Ichilcik – Europe Regional Lead of Ethics + Compliance based in London
  • Daniel P. Levison – Asia Regional Lead of Ethics + Compliance based in Singapore
Our Approach:
Related Practices:

Our Approach

Designing and Refining Compliance Policies and Procedures

We help our clients design new (and refine existing) compliance policies, procedures, and controls to address and mitigate risk. We do not believe in an “out of the box” approach. We believe that effective policies and procedures:

  • take into account a company’s history, values, and culture; and
  • are clear, practical and accessible.

Our team has assisted many companies across industries in the development of policies and procedures, has seen many different approaches, and is well positioned to help companies determine the best approach to a given situation. This experience positions us to help companies achieve their compliance objectives in a way that supports business objectives while mitigating risk.

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Benchmarking and Assessing the Effectiveness of Compliance Programs

We work with clients to benchmark their compliance programs against those of their peers, and against the expectations of government regulators and enforcement agencies. Our Global Ethics + Compliance team includes former prosecutors and high-ranking government officials from enforcement agencies around the world, as well as former in-house compliance officers. Our clients benefit from these unique perspectives and our team’s ability to anticipate the concerns and reactions of regulators and enforcement agencies. Our team also includes forensic accountants, who are invaluable in helping to pressure-test the effectiveness of controls. Through these exercises, we are able to help companies decide how best to utilize their compliance resources, and provide tangible guidance and recommendations to assist companies in refining their programs to be consistent with industry best practices, and to meet the expectations of regulators and enforcement agencies.

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Day-to-Day Compliance Program Implementation and Counseling

Our team spends a significant amount of time counseling clients on the day-to-day issues that arise in the implementation and enforcement of their compliance programs. These issues take many forms. On a typical day, we might help a client determine whether they can move forward with the engagement of a consultant in light of red flags raised; assist another client in determining whether the proposed travel hosting of a government official can be accomplished in a compliant manner and, if so, develop a plan to mitigate risk; provide guidance regarding attendance at a trade association meeting; advise a client on whether a proposed transaction in Venezuela presents sanctions risk; provide training to a client’s board on their obligations as they relate to the company’s compliance program; and so on. This aspect of our practice allows us to be proactive counselors for our clients, helping them achieve business objectives in a way that mitigates compliance risks.

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Crisis Preparedness and Management

Our team is regularly called upon to provide creative and practical advice concerning all stages of crisis management, from preparedness to response. We have provided crisis management counseling to hundreds of organizations, including nearly half of the Fortune 50 and numerous clients across industries and sectors. We design and lead customized tabletop exercises for global-incident response teams, executive leadership teams, and boards of directors. We’ve developed real-life scenarios to prepare executives and boards to deal with breaches, insider threats, active shooters, workplace harassment, and other potential crises for which modern companies must be ready. And, of course, if a crisis does materialize, we are on standby to assist our clients in navigating the many challenges that may arise, including identifying and taking proactive steps to mitigate risks as a crisis unfolds and in dealing with internal and external stakeholders and government agencies.

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Internal Investigations and Litigation

When issues are discovered or allegations are made, we assemble a legal team that is custom built for the client’s particular situation. We react in real time to provide analysis and advice, drawing on our diverse team’s unparalleled experience and insights across the full spectrum of compliance regimes. If potential problems arise, our team can be rapidly deployed to conduct internal investigations, defend against enforcement actions, and provide representation at both the corporate and individual level.

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Related Practices


Our anti-corruption team includes former federal prosecutors and regulators, veteran career defense attorneys, and seasoned regional experts, as well as former high-ranking officials from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Unit. Our lawyers, located in offices throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia, have extensive experience preparing clients to comply with the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act, and other anti-corruption regimes. By leveraging a practical and risk-based approach, we help clients focus their anti-corruption compliance efforts where they are most needed.

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With experienced attorneys in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including recognized subject-matter experts such as the former chief of the National Criminal Enforcement Section of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, we have an integrated global Antitrust team ready to provide clients with the help they need to anticipate and avoid problems before they arise. We know our clients’ businesses and understand their goals. This allows us to work with clients to provide practical solutions to commercial challenges touching on the full range of antitrust issues, including designing and administering antitrust compliance programs; conducting internal audits; and advancing competition policy objectives through proactive engagement with government stakeholders.

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Bank Secrecy + Anti-Money Laundering

Our experience ranges from advising clients on discrete BSA/AML compliance questions to supporting clients in regulatory examinations and enforcement actions. We routinely advise clients on a day-to-day basis with regard to BSA/AML questions they face in the course of their business, and support clients in enhancing and updating their BSA/AML compliance programs. When needed, we advise clients on statutory and regulatory changes and how they may affect a client’s BSA/AML and OFAC compliance, and provide training on relevant issues and developments.

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Employment + Labor

Employers facing the complex legal, compliance, and human resources challenges that permeate today’s workplace seek creative and strategic solutions from our global Employment and Labor Group. We provide counseling on employment policies and compliance matters to companies operating in jurisdictions around the world on laws regulating discrimination, harassment, anti-retaliation, disability accommodation, leaves of absence, vacation and sick leave, immigration law compliance, and safety. Our team assists employers with state-specific regulation compliance, employment policies and agreement drafting, agency investigations and audits, and employee benefits. We also draft employee handbooks and policy manuals, and guide employers as to how to implement those policies.

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Export Controls + Sanctions

With lawyers in North America, Europe, and Asia, including the former director of OFAC, we bring together an integrated, multijurisdictional team, and simultaneously counsel on the application of U.S., EU, Japan, China, and Hong Kong law to complex cross-border transactions that could trigger potential sanctions. When new sanctions are imposed (whether by legislation, executive order, or implementing regulations), we assist clients in updating their policies and procedures to ensure best compliance practices. We assist with assessments of OFAC policies and procedures, conduct internal investigations to identify issues that contributed to deficiencies in OFAC compliance programs, provide training on sanctions issues, and help develop strategic plans to improve systems and procedures that address the identified compliance gaps.

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Government Contracts

Agreements with Government entities are subject to extensive and complex procurement statutes, regulations, and rules that can differ significantly from those that apply in the commercial marketplace. They also vary widely from one country to the next. We help ensure that our clients have the necessary ethics and compliance infrastructure in place to meet all their contractual obligations. During contract performance, we guide clients through applicable regulatory requirements and any performance issues that may arise. We also develop Organizational Conflicts of Interest (OCI) avoidance and other mitigation strategies to help our clients manage the business risks of working with government entities.

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Privacy + Data Security

One of the greatest threats to any modern organization is the security of the technology and mission-critical data on its systems. We offer important resources to support our clients in their privacy compliance and data security efforts, working with them on compliance and risk management through establishing programs and policies, providing employee training, and responding to regulatory inquiries and investigations. We advise clients on local and cross-border data protection and privacy strategies, finding solutions to complex and often conflicting legal obligations across the globe. Working with regulators worldwide, we are familiar with data protection laws in every jurisdiction and understand the varying cultural and legal norms surrounding them.

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Securities Fraud + Insider Trading

Our Securities Regulatory Enforcement attorneys help our clients navigate the complex challenges that arise when complying with the requirements of the SEC and other regulatory bodies. Our team includes highly respected securities advisory counsel who provide guidance to companies, underwriters, and other market participants on corporate finance matters and best practices for disclosure and compliance. Our team also includes attorneys who previously worked as regulators, including for the SEC, who have a deep understanding of how regulators operate. We levy this experience to advise on the full range of securities regulatory matters, including cases involving allegations of insider trading, market manipulation, and other securities fraud issues.

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