Lee D. Augsburger, Class of 1987
Senior vice president of Prudential Financial, Inc., overseeing global compliance and ethics
As Senior Vice President and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer in the Law, Compliance and Business Ethics unit of Prudential Financial, Inc., Lee Augsburger is responsible for overseeing the company’s global compliance organization of more than 400 staff worldwide and the company’s global business ethics efforts. He first joined Prudential in 1997, later becoming the chief legal officer for the annuities business. In 2000, he moved to the compliance department and was appointed Chief Compliance Officer in 2007 and Global Chief Ethics Officer in 2009.
Prior to joining Prudential, Augsburger was a director in PriceWaterhouse’s Regulatory Consulting Practice, worked with Van Kampen Merrit, served several years with the law firm Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, and later joined Smith Barney, where he was deputy general counsel for its mutual fund organization. He is an adjunct faculty member at New York Law School, developing and teaching Compliance for Global Financial Services Companies for its financial services LLM program. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers University, is the Chair of the Board of the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association and serves on the Advisory Board for Chicago-Kent's Institute on Compliance.
What advice would you give to young attorneys just starting out today?
Be prepared where you are and opportunities will present themselves. Don’t always look up, you might not always find a position that’s ahead of you. You have to look side to side. There are sometimes really great opportunities side to side that then culminate in a much broader opportunity.
I also tell people who are getting started that you have to know yourself. You have to have a degree of self-awareness and understand not only what you’re good at but what you enjoy. If you enjoy what you’re good at, it’ll catapult you to the top of your group. You have to find a place you can carve out your expertise.
The other thing is: Opportunity presents itself to the prepared mind. You can’t bluff your way through life, and that means preparation and diligence. I discovered that the hard way.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I got fired. That happens. When that happens, you have to really take a pretty meaningful self-inventory and look hard in the mirror. What went wrong and what went right here? How do I grow from this? You have to take a long view and say one job does not a career make. It wasn’t fun, but it happens. When it does, you need to learn from it rather than trying to suggest that there was no reason for this happening. I suspect in most cases there is learning we can take from those experiences.
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
I can look at the industry and the leadership role that I’ve taken in the Compliance profession and take some gratitude for what I’ve accomplished there. The much more meaningful experience comes from working with people and watching them develop. Giving them opportunity and trying to be insightful to help them figure out what their weaknesses might be and to help them through that.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
I harken back to Professor Conviser. He said this enormously well my first year and I’ve repeated it about a million times since: a law school education really forces people to analyze and articulate. Whether that articulation happens orally or in writing, and those people who can do that well is invaluable in any profession. I would suggest a legal education has merit even if you’re not going in to the practice of law. It’s been enormously valuable to me and I don’t think of myself as practicing law. My ability to work through problems, and the amount of writing I do, is crazy. Kent was superb in putting down a foundation for that.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
You certainly don’t grow up and say, “I’m going to be a chief compliance officer.” I knew I was going to be a leader in some capacity, and it turned out to be in this amazing profession of compliance. There was no way to predict that when I was younger because it didn’t exist.
How would you persuade a potential student to attend Chicago-Kent?
Chicago-Kent has committed its program to preparing lawyers who can write. If you can write well, you can reason well and that is a hallmark of the school that I marvel at. The preparation you get is second to none. To this day I remember some of the late nights I spent finishing assignments, but it really pays off.