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April 19, 2024

2024 Midwinter Meeting Co-Chair Report

Jennie Arnold, Marie Casciari, Clarissa Kang, and Bruce Perlin

We are delighted to announce the success of the 2024 Employee Benefits Committee Midwinter Meeting. The meeting was held at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California, from January 31 to February 3, 2024. There were 225 attorneys from across the country in attendance. We thank those who participated — as attendees, administrative committee members, panelists, sponsors, and beyond.

The meeting began on Wednesday with two diverse panel presentations at the University of San Diego School of Law and California Western School of Law. We hosted a welcome reception on Wednesday evening, which provided the opportunity for people to connect, chat and enjoy some food and beverages.

On Thursday, we kicked off our first day of programming with a 2023 Employee Benefits Highlights panel of 10 members of the EBC, addressing subjects including Recent Developments in Actuarial Assumption cases, Cybersecurity Litigation, Pharmacy Benefit Managers Litigation, Target Date Fund litigation and COBRA litigation. That was followed by the keynote address from former Committee Co-Chair Lisa Gomez, who now serves as Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration. Lisa encouraged us all to approach our work with participants in mind, seeking to bring benefit security to as many individuals and families as possible. Following Lisa’s excellent presentation, dual track breakout sessions were offered. Attendees could choose between a panel on the scope of ERISA remedies or a discussion about negotiation of vendor contracts. Other breakout panels discussed disability insurance developments and issues specific to multiemployer plans. The lunch hour was highlighted by a presentation on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at which attendees were encouraged to overcome the biases of lived experiences by intentionally making choices to spend time with persons who look and think differently than oneself. Many sponsors contributed to this luncheon, which was available to all and attended by a large percentage of Midwinter Meeting attendees. Following the plenary and breakout sessions, participants were able to catch up on updates related to the Employee Benefits Law treatise, as well as meet the Government Fellows, the Employee Benefits Committee Co-Chairs and the Section of Labor and Employment Law leadership. We concluded the day with a well-attended networking reception at the hotel.

On Friday, programming continued with an update from the Section of Labor and Employment Law leadership and panels discussing the impacts of recent decisions regarding abortion care and gender affirming care coverage, ethics updates, and government regulation updates, followed by discussion of parity in mental health and substance abuse disorder coverage. Following the morning of engaging programming, Jackson Lewis hosted a Women’s Networking Luncheon. It was a wonderful time for the women’s caucus to connect, and we are grateful to Jackson Lewis for continuing to sponsor such a special event. Constituent groups hosted business meetings through the afternoon, and the day ended with another well-attended networking reception at the hotel.

On Saturday, we began with an update from the ERISA Advisory Council regarding its recent and current priorities. That was followed by updates regarding litigation against defined contribution plans, and programming concluded with discussion of hot topics in health benefits. Finally, the meeting ended with the Employee Benefits Committee Business Meeting, where we announced that the next Midwinter Meeting will return to Savannah, Georgia, from February 5-8, 2025.

During the Midwinter Meeting, we also honored those who have contributed so much to our Committee in the past, including Stacey Cerrone, the former Employer Co-Chair who was succeeded by Clarissa Kang, and John Harney, the former Union and Employee Co-Chair who was succeeded by Jennie Arnold.

We sincerely thank our Programming Committee led by Russell Hirschhorn and Radha Pathak and all the other Committee members for their thoughtful planning and coordination. We additionally want to thank the following groups for their hard work and outstanding contributions:

  • Membership Committee held the annual First-Time Attendees’ Breakfast on Thursday morning, which was well attended. We welcomed approximately 30 new attendees to this year’s Midwinter Meeting. We thank you all for your interest and participation, and we look forward to seeing you at future Midwinter Meetings.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee held the largest diversity luncheon so far, with an inspiring presentation about the elimination of bias in the legal profession with Sana’ Walker of HR Girlfriends.
  • Pro Bono Committee raised nearly $10,000 in donations for the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. While the plaintiff and employee caucus contributed the most donations this year, it was a very successful pro bono program all around. We thank everyone who made donations for this worthy cause.
  • Employee Benefits Law treatise planning is well underway for the latest supplement/update, which is co-published by the ABA and Bloomberg Law. We sincerely thank our Editor-in-Chief, Russell Hirschhorn, for his continued dedication to this important publication, along with all our Senior Editors, Chapter Editors and contributing authors.

Finally, we sincerely thank Section Director Brad Hoffman and Associate Director Rose Ashford for all their incredible work in putting together such a successful Midwinter Meeting. We could not do it without you, and we truly appreciate everything you do for our Committee. Thank you both so much!

We are now knee-deep in planning for JCEB ERISA: Beyond the Basics, to be held virtually May 6-8, 2024. We encourage you to share this information with any attorneys seeking further experience in employee benefits law. We also thank those speaking at this seminar and look forward to seeing you there!

We hope you all stay connected throughout this next year!

EBC Co-Chairs,

Jennie Arnold, Union & Employee
Marie Casciari, Employee
Clarissa Kang, Employer
Bruce Perlin, Public

The Employee Benefits Committee Co-Chairs at the 2024 Midwinter Meeting.
(L-R): Jennie Arnold, Bruce Perlin, Clarissa Kang, Marie Casciari

The Employee Benefits Committee Co-Chairs at the 2024 Midwinter Meeting. (L-R): Jennie Arnold, Bruce Perlin, Clarissa Kang, Marie Casciari

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