January 2, 2004
Phone: (504) 865-5714
If the great corporate scandals of the 21st century have had a silver lining this may be it: a demand for accountability among highly paid CEOs and top management who run the multi-million dollar enterprises of corporate America.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, regarded by many as the most significant piece of legislation to affect corporate governance, financial disclosure and the practice of public accounting since the U.S. securities laws of the early 1930s, is forcing companies to scrub behind their ears and keep a squeaky clean accounting of their businesses.
In a move to capitalize on the need for education and guidance in the brave new corporate world, Tulane Law School last summer partnered with Bisk Education Inc. to provide a web-based curriculum and resource center entitled "Excellence in Corporate Governance Online."
This series of programs, delivered online through audio and video streaming, debuted in September, giving the law school and a handful of local attorneys a high profile in the corporate community.
"The people at Bisk came to us to with the idea of putting together a curriculum on corporate law, in light of the recent changes resulting from Sarbanes-Oxley," said Gary Roberts, deputy dean of the law school. "We then went to Jones-Walker, a local firm with a large corporate and security law section, and asked if they had attorneys willing to be on camera and represent Tulane. We have a number of alumni working at the firm and knew that anything they did would be first rate."
The eight attorneys at the firm who agreed to participate travelled to the Bisk headquarters in Tampa, Fla., to tape lectures for the series.
"We get to share in the revenues and great exposure, Jones-Walker attorneys reach a large audience of officers and directors of public companies, and Bisk gets an excellent program," says Roberts. "It's a win-win-win situation."
John Girault (L '89), a Tulane law alumnus and retired Jones-Walker attorney, was contacted to coordinate the program. Said Girault, "Bisk had the idea, in light of Enron and Tyco and all the corporate scandals, that the corporate landscape had changed. Their idea was to provide a program that addressed that."
According to Girault, a director whose company is subscribing to the service can go online, choose a topic and get a lecture from an expert on corporate law. "One of the main attractions," said Girault, "is that you can go to the site anytime. If an issue comes up at a board meeting, these guys can go online for guidance on the subject."
Subscribers also are provided with written material to supplement the lecture. Along with the legal know-how provided by Tulane and Jones-Walker regarding Sarbanes-Oxley, the Excellence in Corporate Governance curriculum comprises two other sections: one addressing the fiduciary duties of directors and another on accounting practices.
Supplying content for those parts of the course is Protiviti Inc., an internal audit and business and technology risk consulting firm. The total curriculum features more than 25 hours of analysis and strategies for meeting new corporate law standards.
Nick Marinello can be reached at email@example.com.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org