Kudos to Hui Chen (the DOJ’s Compliance Counsel) for highlighting the “lack of precision and intellectual rigor” in much compliance writing and commentary.
In this weekend LinkedIn post titled “Precision Matters,” Chen highlights three recent articles / posts to demonstrate her points . Although she does not link to or cite the articles, it is clear that the offending articles include here and here from the FCPA Blog.
Frequent posts on FCPA Professor have highlighted the same (and other) problems Chen speaks of. (See the following posts among others: “All We Need Is Trust,” “Compliance 2.0 – A (Mostly) Meaningless Buzzword,” “Elevating the FCPA Conversation,” “You Gotta Be Kidding Me“, “Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid,” and “Blowing the Whistle on Recent Commentary“).
In pertinent part, Chen writes:
“In my legal and compliance careers, I have been fortunate to have been trained to be precise in my writing: instead of using conclusory or inflammatory language, use facts; use data to back up – or better yet, replace – adjectives; distinguish between correlation and causation.”
“I am not advocating that all blog postings or marketing materials need to meet the precision standard of law review or scientific academic journals. I do, however, believe statements should be made with substantiation, evidence, and accuracy, and conclusions based on clearly articulated logic. You can still speculate, surmise, intuit, or opine, so long as you make clear that is what you are doing and not claim they are facts. Instead of generalizations and exaggerations, be more specific and concrete.”
Certain commentators and blogs in the FCPA space should heed Chen’s words because “buzzwords,” “lack of precision and intellectual rigor,” and other deficiencies highlighted by Chen such as use of news articles about developing events as evidence of pet narratives, “heaped clichés upon strung-together generalizations and speculations as if one were the natural conclusion of the other,” and “assumed causation” are common deficiencies in their writing and commentaary.
“It would be a tremendous service to the compliance profession if we can all strive to hold each other accountable for precision, accuracy, and intellectual rigor in the statements we make.”
Indeed, this is one of the reasons I launched FCPA Professor in July 2009 and is something I continually strive to do.
As refreshing as Chen’s remarks were, her criticisms should also apply to the DOJ. In other words, when speaking about the FCPA and FCPA enforcement, the public should expect from the DOJ precision, accuracy, and intellectual rigor.
Unfortunately, this is often missing (see here and here for recent examples).
FYI – Ms. Chen has begun tweeting at @HuiChenEthics
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