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December 22, 2023

Comments from Jennie Arnold, Union & Employee Co-Chair

Jennie Arnold

I am excited to have taken the position of Union & Employee Co-Chair of the Employee Benefits Committee (“EBC”). No one can fill the shoes of those who preceded me, to whom I owe tremendous gratitude. I thank my immediate predecessor, John Harney, for his notable leadership during the most challenging points of the Covid pandemic. I look forward to working with my fellow Co-Chairs: Marie Casciari, Clarissa Kang and Bruce Perlin, continuing the tradition of fantastic collegiality within and amongst the various contingents that fill the EBC.

I practice at a smaller firm, representing multi-employer benefit plans in litigation and assisting them with compliance issues. I’m also a mother of three elementary school-aged children—which is to say, I understand being busy. Many employee benefits attorneys I speak to lately tell me that their practice is buzzing. Even in these busy times, and perhaps particularly so, I anticipate that you will find your contributions to the EBC to be rewarded both professionally and personally. To anyone who has yet to fully experience the opportunity to serve within the EBC, or who seeks to commit in a different capacity, please do reach out. Options abound—serving on Subcommittees, writing for the Employee Benefits Law treatise, authoring articles for the Newsletter, and more. However, you may participate, invite a friend along for the ride. Attendance at a Midwinter Meeting is always enjoyable, and as we are often reminded today, our in-person interactions are crucial to the development of our connections with others. Our friends are sometimes found online, but in my view, are best found at the other end of a handshake or a hug. For those of us earning our living in the field of employee benefits law, it is great to find our people while contributing to the vital work of the EBC.

As our support for the EBC may benefit us, so too may it benefit others. We are faced with numerous changes to laws and regulations governing retirement and welfare plans. Those advising plans are busy with the work of compliance, meanwhile many participants and their counsel struggle to obtain benefits owed, government attorneys serve both lawmakers and their constituents, and ERISA litigators continue to confront new frontiers. The many impacts of the pandemic are unavoidable, and they are everywhere, whether on the surface or buried below. Our clients need us, and accessing competent counsel may present challenges for those who seek it. Within the EBC, we can work together collectively to foster the expertise necessary to provide the counsel and advocacy our clients want and deserve. Along with our colleagues, we are uniquely situated to address many struggles of the moment.

Since the first EBC Midwinter Meeting I attended, nearly fifteen years ago, this Committee has opened the door to friendships and relationships with many of the best attorneys in our field. The value of open communication between those who practice within our circles cannot be enumerated. I appreciate the diversity of participants within the EBC, and the charitableness of time and spirit. In the coming months and years, I hope we continue to provide opportunities for folks of all backgrounds and positions to grow their skills and leadership. While I am thankful for the opportunity to help lead this valuable organization, I ask each of you to help my Co-Chairs and myself to do it well.

Jennie Arnold

Jennie Arnold

Union & Employee Co-Chair

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