Like many professionals, Michael Elliott decided to return to school for a master’s level education.
Elliott currently works at Nationwide in Des Moines, Iowa, as an underwriting manager. He leads a team of eight underwriters in growing a profitable book of small businesses in the Midwest.
While looking for a degree program relevant to his field, Elliott learned about Drake University Law School’s new Master in Jurisprudence (MJ) in Compliance and Risk Management.
Launched this fall, the MJ in Compliance and Risk Management program is intended for professionals like Elliott, who want a better understanding of the law but do not wish to practice.
“I am in the business of risk management, and my team ends up in the legal realm dealing with Department of Insurance regulations on a daily basis,” he says. “So I knew this program would be a good fit for me.”
The program combines law and business courses to prepare professionals to interpret and apply regulatory requirements, engage with government regulatory agencies, ensure compliance with ethical standards and codes of conduct, and more.
“It gives me the best of both worlds,” Elliott says of the program. “It also gives me skills that I can use at any company in any industry—because no matter what business you’re in, you have to deal with risk management and compliance to some degree.”
As part of the inaugural class, Elliott is currently taking courses on the regulatory process and organizational risk management.
Through these courses, he is learning how to conduct legal research and understand legislative procedures, administrative agency structure, and regulatory authority.
“Being able to look at statutes and regulations and understand the intent behind them gives me a valuable leg up in reviewing compliance with my business unit,” he says.
Elliott also benefits from networking with his fellow classmates, who represent industries such as banking and healthcare.
According to Cathy Lesser Mansfield, professor at Drake Law School and director of the program, compliance and risk management apply to a variety of fields.
“Employers from insurance to agribusiness to pharmaceuticals need people to ensure that their companies are meeting government regulations and ethical standards,” Mansfield explains. “These students come from all areas, and they learn from each other’s experiences.”
Elliott is also a parent, and in his free time enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy novels under a pen name. To date, he has published more than 30 novels.
“It’s a fun release to write stories between my coursework, my job, and taking care of a three-year-old,” Elliott says.