Satisfying regulators is an art form that many of us have yet to fully master. Increasing regulatory scrutiny is a fact of life today for corporations, whether privately held or publicly traded. In some highly regulated industries, corporate executives have described feeling as if their businesses have been placed under a regulatory microscope. Rather than giving in to the siege mentality this environment can create, general counsel and their internal clients should view each interaction with their regulators as an opportunity to build relationships and enhance their company's image.
Achieving regulator satisfaction--and the benefits a corporation can derive from a productive relationship with regulators--requires a fundamental shift in the adversarial perception about regulators. Instead of hoping that they never knock on our doors, we should reverse the trend and, where possible, call on regulators first. In-house counsel who reach out to their government agency counterparts often find that they have opened important doors of communication and cooperation that, during periods of regulatory investigation or inspection, might otherwise be closed.