Preventive Law and Compliance
Clients must specifically discuss whether they want the attorney to review their general legal situation. This process, called a preventive law audit, is meant to assess the client’s legal condition in the same way that a history and physical examination is meant to assess a patient’s medical condition. Preventive law audits have been a mainstay of environmental law for many years. If there is an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, such as an intentional violation of a dumping regulation, the presence of an effective preventive law plan can serve to mitigate the charges. While calling them compliance plans, rather than preventive law plans, the OIG has now mandated that medical care providers institute preventive law audits for potential violations of federal medical care regulations.
A preventive law audit has three goals: identifying mature, previously undetected legal problems; identifying legally risky situations; and identifying potential legal risks. The audit is usually performed by an attorney, and it requires the client’s cooperation and participation. The client will have to provide partnership agreements, insurance policies, leases, and all other legal agreements, answer questions, and fill out legal audit forms. The result is the legal equivalent of a complete history and physical examination.