The Path to Compliance: a Spotlight on Ted Banks

Jessica Sweeb
Associate Editor
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2019


Ted Banks is a partner at the firm Scharf Banks Marmor and is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where he teaches a course on corporate compliance. At Scharf Banks Marmor, Mr. Banks concentrates his practice on compliance, antitrust, food law, and other corporate issues. He entered compliance by accident many years ago, and has been an innovator in the field ever since. Mr. Banks has been recognized as an Illinois “Super Lawyer” in the areas of corporate governance and compliance, and he has also been named a Risk & Compliance Trailblazer and Pioneer by the National Law Journal. Here, he has shared his story, tells us the real deal about compliance, and gives advice to students who wish to make compliance their career.


Ted Banks: His path to compliance

Mr. Banks’s path to compliance was not a straightforward one. When he entered the field, compliance was called preventive law. Mr. Banks started his career at Kraft Foods working in antitrust, where there was a serious concern about the penalties that companies would face if they violated antitrust laws. Mr. Banks was introduced to compliance when he was tasked with developing a training program at Kraft Foods to prevent employees from violating antitrust laws. This project sparked Mr. Banks’s interest in the compliance world.

Mr. Banks was able to expand and significantly improve this training program and eventually was able to form a group in the law department that focused on compliance regulations for Kraft Foods. Due to his contribution and hard work in this department, Mr. Banks was promoted to Chief Counsel for Global Compliance Policy. In this role, he was responsible for numerous tasks such as compliance training, policies, and record management.

Mr. Banks stayed in this role at Kraft Foods until 2008, when he decided to go into private practice. He also began to communicate with Loyola about the compliance field and the benefits of introducing law students to this field as another avenue of employment for Loyola graduates. He pitched this idea during the 2008 recession, when many law firms had either drastically reduced or completely ceased all hiring of new attorneys. Loyola embraced the idea and in 2010, Loyola’s first class on corporate compliance was offered.

The real deal about compliance

Since being involved in compliance for over 25 years, Mr. Banks has been able to break down what it takes to be successful in the field, as well as what some of the biggest struggles in the field are. His primary principle in compliance is to “put yourself in the shoes of your target audience.” When leading a compliance training, Mr. Banks says there can typically be a disconnect between the law as explained by attorneys, and how “normal” people communicate. “Lawyers conflate an understanding of technical requirements of an area of law with compliance expertise,” he says. There is more to making an effective compliance program than just knowledge of the law. The requirements must be communicated in an effective way, and substantive knowledge does not make one an expert in adult education.

To make a compliance program successful, one must make sure the legal requirements are articulated in a practical way. One must understand the demographics of the organization, and be familiar with learnings in behavioral economics to be able to address how people react in situations requiring ethical decisions.

Advice to students entering the field

According to Mr. Banks, having strong personal ethics and knowledge of substantive law are essential for law school graduates that want to enter the compliance field. Mr. Banks expressed that the compliance field is not easy: a person in a compliance role needs to be able to make tough decisions and be able to stand up for what they believe in.

Still, Mr. Banks contends that compliance is a fantastic field to work in. Compliance can open many doors, making it a wonderful field for law students to enter into immediately following law school. New attorneys can always move to a different area of law if compliance is not necessarily their primary interest.

Compliance offerings at Loyola 

Loyola offers a variety of compliance courses and now offers a compliance certificate. Mr. Banks’s class, Corporate Compliance, attempts to provide students with practical tools so they can work in a corporate compliance department, or help their law firms have a successful compliance practice. Corporate Compliance will be offered in the Spring semester.