ABA Tax Section’s Genevieve Borello interviews Bonnie Treichel, Chief Solutions Officer at Endeavor Retirement.com, an “On the Rise—Top 40 Young Lawyers” Award Recipient.
ATT: Congratulations, Bonnie, as a 2022 honoree! Can you tell us what got you interested in tax law?
BT: I really enjoyed my federal income tax class in law school, but I ultimately fell into tax because of the intersection of ERISA with the tax code. Most people don’t grow up saying they want to grow up working in ERISA law, but I had the opportunity to work with a boutique ERISA firm early on. I liked the concept of building retirement savings programs. It helps people build the life they want in their final years and that’s impactful.
ATT: How did your interest in ERISA and retirement savings programs lead you to be involved in the Tax Section?
BT: It started with an invitation from Bob Toth to serve on a new committee for the Tax Section focused on retirement income. If you think about retirement plans, there are a number of good mechanisms to help people save, but there aren’t many good mechanisms to help people strategically take money out of their retirement plans. People need to be reassured that they have enough to last throughout their lifetime. But they also need the comfort of knowing they have saved enough. If both of those assurances exist, they will have the freedom to spend in retirement without constant fretting about whether they are adequately protected.
ATT: So once you became involved in the Tax Section and the retirement programs, did that involvement help you in your career?
BT: One of the big benefits of my involvement in the Tax Section has been the chance to learn from more seasoned attorneys. It also has allowed me to spend time sharing with other attorneys the real-world problems that some of my clients face. This dialogue has been useful to me in my career but perhaps more importantly, it has provided information that has helped my clients achieve better outcomes for their companies and their employees. The Tax Section’s meetings and discussion are about solving real world problems for clients and coming together to achieve those goals.
ATT: Given your experience, would you encourage young lawyers to get involved with the Tax Section?
BT: I would definitely encourage young lawyers to get involved with the Tax Section! It provides a wonderful opportunity to have continued growth in your career that you didn’t even know you needed. And, for that matter, who doesn’t need to know about tax law? We all do because it has so many practical applications to our clients, even when we practice in ancillary areas like insurance law, pensions and ERISA.
ATT: So if you could give advice to other young lawyers, what would be the two most important ideas you would share with them?
BT: First, nurture your network. Do you know who the 5 people are who will advocate for you when you aren’t in the room? You might not feel like you need a network today, but you never know when you will need to call on your network. That means you also must be a good steward to others in your network and be mindful of service towards others when networking.
Second, a career in law is a marathon, not a sprint. I am still learning this daily, but the idea is that we don’t want to burn out as young lawyers. I would tell young lawyers today to take your time, love yourself and pace yourself because it’s a long and lovely career ahead! Enjoy the race!
ATT: Do you have any additional advice for new Section members who may be attending their first meeting at the Mid-Year Meeting in San Diego?
BT: I would encourage new Section members to get outside their comfort zones and get involved. It’s okay to speak up in a meeting, ask a “dumb” question, and to be a little uncomfortable in a meeting with so many experts. It might be somewhat uneasy, but you should join the Tax Section and get involved in a committee. You don’t have to know everything; you just have to be willing to listen and participate when you can. And, believe me, in the long run, your clients and prospective clients will thank you because that process of attending meetings and becoming involved in the discussions is a great learning process.
ATT: Some people say that having a mentor made a real difference in their legal careers. Have you had a mentor or sponsor who helped guide and support you? If so, please tell us about them!
BT: I have had many mentors and advocates in my career. One of those advocates has been Matthew Eickman. He is a member of the Tax Section and serves on ABA committees. He has pushed me to be a better presenter, to get outside my comfort zone and to think more critically. Watching him work with his clients and team members at his firm is inspirational and aspirational.
ATT: At this point in your career, what would you say is your favorite thing about tax?
BT: My work is primarily focused on how the tax code intersects and tracks ERISA, which is both unique and fun. I love how retirement policy and provisions help people save more to enjoy their life and everything for which they have worked so hard!
ATT: Besides your tax reading, what books are you reading for fun?
BT: Who reads for fun? I read the tax code, of course, but I also listen to a lot of books on tape and podcasts. A few fun reads that I have managed of late include The Library Book by Susan Orlean (great if you like libraries and LA) and a short fun read is Wolfpack by Abby Wamback.