Co-Chairs' Report on the Midwinter Meeting
Greetings from the co-chairs! We are pleased to report that this year's Midwinter Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana from February 5-8 was a tremendous success with a record-breaking 272 attendees, including 31 first-time attendees and four government fellows. We were pleased to have 19 government attorneys in attendance at this year's meeting from several federal agencies having jurisdiction over various aspects of employee benefits. Keynote speaker for our program was Phyllis Borzi, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), and a long-time member of the Committee, who discussed EBSA's current priorities and initiatives. ABA Labor & Employment Law Section Chair Joel D'Alba, Vice-Chair Gail Holtzman, and Council Liaisons Joyce Mader, Geoff Weirich and Ruben Chapa gave updates on the Section and Employee Benefits Committee accomplishments and initiatives. In addition to the Keynote Address from Assistant Secretary Borzi, we had over 60 members of our Committee share their expertise on a variety of topics that focused on the cutting edge issues faced by employee benefits practitioners. Attendees also enjoyed a panel discussion with special guest Judge Edith Jones, who recently completed a six year term as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and gave her unique insight and perspective about how courts of appeals view and decide ERISA benefit cases. Based on survey results, the presentations were well-received and we had a good mix of litigation and compliance-focused panels and breakout sessions. We encourage you to reach out to the co-chairs to give us your suggestions on how to improve our programming.
This year we once again offered a diversity luncheon which was well-attended and thought-provoking. We thank panelists and EBC members Marcelle Henry, Ali Khawar and Michelle Roberts who led us in a lively and interactive discussion of the challenges faced by diverse lawyers as several members shared their experiences and insight with the group, as well as Clarissa Kang who could not attend the meeting but helped to plan the luncheon. The Senior Editors of 'the Book,' aka Employee Benefits Law (written and edited by our committee and published by the Bureau of National Affairs), discussed the status of the treatise and plans for the upcoming 2014 supplement, which will cover developments through December 31, 2013 as well as U.S. Supreme Court decisions, final legislation and final regulations in 2014.
Attendees enjoyed New Orleans and networking at our receptions, first-time attendee breakfast, meet-the-leadership tea, constituency meetings, and women's luncheon. The networking reception at Pat O'Brien's on the River featured a lively local band, lots of dancing and a special celebration in honor of the 40th "birthday" of ERISA, complete with a birthday cake and candles. The co-chairs thanked Lisa Gomez, who completes her term as Union/Employee Co-Chair in August 2014, recognizing her last Midwinter Meeting as Co-Chair with a surprise gift of an authentic New Orleans wash board, after her debut playing the wash board at the networking event.
We would like to thank all of the firms who co-sponsored the meeting and contributed to the success of events. Your support helps make our Midwinter Meeting one of the best attended in the Section. If you were not able to attend the Midwinter Meeting this year, we hope to see you February 4-7, 2015 as we return to the well-loved Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California, and we encourage you to promote the Midwinter Meeting to your colleagues.
Save the date!
Deborah Davidson, Employer Co-Chair
Lisa M. Gomez, Union/Employee Co-Chair
Todd Jackson, Plaintiff Co-Chair
Karen E. Mock, Public Co-Chair