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Faculty Spotlight: Frank DiMarino Sees Law as Giving Back and Paying It Forward

Compliance ProgramFrank DiMarino, Principal Professor and Practitioner in the MLS Compliance and Risk Management Program, has a background in federal prosecution centered on economic crime. As an Assistant United States Attorney, he monitored the performance along with the District Court, of companies who were under court order to implement corrective compliance programs. Naturally, this background provides an endless wealth of knowledge to inform his teaching. 

Frank earned his LLM from George Washington University, his Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve School of Law, and his Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. Now, he’s our Principal Professor here at the Seattle University School of Law’s Compliance and Risk Management program, and we are honored to have him. We’re delighted to have him as our interviewee for today’s Faculty Spotlight. Frank was kind enough to answer some questions about how his own career trajectory developed, what motivates him to stay committed to law, his favorite elements of teaching, and much more. 

What Got You Interested in Law?

In the early years after the Civil War, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley said that law is the foundation of a civilized society. The law is the way we order ourselves, respect one another’s rights, and recognize our privileges. I am a first-generation high school graduate, college graduate, and law school graduate. My family always valued education and instilled the worth of personal development and service to the country. I saw the study and practice of law as a way to give back for the blessings that had been bestowed. 

How Did Your Career Unfold, and How Did You Get Started at Seattle U School of Law’s Compliance Program?

One of the key developments of my legal career was serving as government lawyer and trial attorney for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the Division of Enforcement then later, for a lengthy time, as a federal prosecutor. Over the years, as I formed collegial relationships with lawyers, judges, and law professors, I saw how this new program at SU appeared to fulfill a specific need for the legal community beyond the practice of law. 

In other words, I immediately saw the value of offering a legal studies education to students who did not want to pursue a Juris Doctor degree, take the bar exam, or practice law – but nonetheless, saw the need to be conversant in the law and apply compliance and risk management principles in a business and legal setting. I’ve had the great privilege to be involved in this program from its early stages, and I continue to see its enrollment, courses, and the need for this type of program all grow.

What Courses Do You Teach at SU?

I teach Organizational Investigations, Corporate Compliance and Ethics, Global Issues in Compliance, and the Capstone Course.

How Did You Become Interested in Teaching?

The legal profession is constantly evolving, and the need for legal acumen in many professions continues to increase. As a practitioner, I’m devoted to improving the legal profession and shaping the future by educating upcoming leaders. It is inspirational to see students pursue their own passions and goals.  

What Do You Enjoy Most about Your Role?

I sincerely enjoy working with and guiding students. I enjoy the challenges they bring to the classroom, how they grapple with learning new concepts, the questions they pose, and the contributions they make to our class discussions. It all is an enriching experience for me. I’m proudest when I see our graduates succeed and use their learning to advance their professional careers. I’m fortunate to have taught outstanding students who are driven to excel and “give it their absolute best!”

Why Is Compliance So Important?

Compliance with laws and regulations ensures that a company is operating within the bounds of the law, which protects the company from legal liability and fines. Additionally, ethical behavior builds trust and credibility with customers, employees, and other stakeholders – – all beneficial  for a company’s reputation and bottom line.   By promoting compliance and ethics throughout the organization, a company can create a culture of integrity and accountability, which prevents fraud and other types of misconduct.

Thanks to Your Vast Experience in Law and Compliance, What Do You Hope to Pass On to Your Students?

I hope to impart the reasoning ability to use sound judgment and discern a legal and ethical path when confronted with issues, especially moral dilemmas. These arise frequently for compliance professionals and risk managers.  

What Is Your Favorite Thing about SU?

Seattle University is known for its commitment to academic excellence and social justice. The university has a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The faculty are actively engaged in research and intellectual thought as well as making significant contributions to the legal field.  I enjoy working with my colleagues to continuously improve our curriculum.   

How Does SU Open Doors for Students?

Seattle University opens doors in many ways. Two that immediately come to mind are through research opportunities and professional development. SU provides numerous opportunities for students to participate in research projects, which can help students gain valuable experience and knowledge in the field of compliance and risk management, and make connections with faculty and other researchers. SU also offers excellent access to resources so students can learn cutting-edge strategies and principles in compliance and risk management.  

SU provides opportunities for students to gain professional development skills such as leadership, communication, and teamwork through the projects, assignments, and discussions built into coursework. There are plenty of networking opportunities to develop your talent, discover exciting career paths, and build professional relationships. 

What’s the Most Helpful Advice You Have Received in Your Academic Career?

Maintain a robust curiosity, a healthy skepticism, and be a good listener. Being curious allows you to fervently pursue lifelong learning and exploration. As our learning becomes more specialized, we actually see how our field of study relates to many other fields and offers greater opportunities. Skepticism allows us to investigate more fully, realize that there is usually more to the story, and acknowledge that our initial impressions may be totally incorrect. Listening intently provides more occasions to broaden your education and learn from other viewpoints.

What Piece of Advice Would You Give Prospective Students Who Are Considering Applying to the Online MLS Program at SU?

  1. Research the program thoroughly. Look into the curriculum, the faculty, and the resources available to students. Determine how the program aligns with your career goals and how benefitting from an advanced degree would enhance your career. 
  2. Be prepared for online learning. Online programs require a high degree of self-motivation and discipline. Be prepared to manage your time effectively and to stay engaged with the course material. Take advantage of the many opportunities to network with students, faculty, and professionals in the field.

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