Seventh National Forum

October 19-21, 2022

Baltimore, Maryland

Our Forum Planning Committee is thrilled to announce the draft agenda for our first in-person National Forum since 2019!  We have put together an informative, timely program that is not to be missed! It is packed with multiple presentations featuring the most current, challenging topics that you face in today's business environment. You will also have plenty of opportunities for in-depth discussions and networking with your fellow in-house counsel as well as many expert guest speakers.



Baltimore, MD

October 19-21, 2022

[Agenda, Program Descriptions and Speakers 

will be finalized in the next month]

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Welcome Reception/Activity -- Time 6-9 pm
  • Location:        

    Mustang Alley

    1300 Bank Street, Second Floor, Baltimore MD 21231

    Phone: 410-522-2695

    Join us on the evening of your arrival for bowling, food, drink and socializing

    Thursday, October 20, 2022

    Location:   Center Club, 100 Light Street, Baltimore MD

    8:30 – 9:00 am               Continental Breakfast

    9:00 – 9:15 am               Opening Remarks – Maureen Dry-Wasson, Allegis Group, Chair - IBCN

    9:15 – 10:15 am             Session with Trade Associations (e.g., American Benefits Council, ERIC) 

    10:15 – 11:15 am           ERISA Litigation Update 

    11:15am – 11:30 pm      Coffee & Networking Break

    11:30pm – 12:30 pm      M&A Benefits Topics/Developments 

    12:45 – 2:00 pm             Lunch & Presentation – Post Dobbs Discussion 

    2:15 – 3:15 pm               Fringe Benefits: What Don’t I Know?

                                            Speaker:  from Covington & Burling 

    3:15 – 4:15 pm               Talking with Your Compensation Committee 

    Even in the absence of regulatory and legislative updates and judicial decisions, there are a number of hot topics your Compensation Committee might be considering:

      • ·       Expanded Role: Should the committee expand its role beyond compensation and benefit matters to include oversight over human capital, including diversity, inclusion, leadership development, succession planning, talent and retention?
      • ·       Clawbacks:  What are the latest trends in clawbacks and forfeitures in light of a company’s potential reputational or operational harm?
      • ·       Pay Equity: Should the company conduct a pay equity or pay gap analysis? Should the results be disclosed?
      • ·       Non-GAAP Metrics: There is an evolving discussion on adjustments to metrics in incentive plans –how to balance the interests of management, investors and proxy advisory firms.
      • ·       ESG Metrics: With more and more companies adopting non-financial metrics and investors wanting to see metrics tied to corporate responsibility, when does it make sense to incorporate ESG metrics into an incentive plan design?

                         Speaker:  Consultant TBD and Joe Penko, Skadden  

      4:15 – 5:15 pm              Retirement Plan Hot Topics

      A wide-ranging conversation about recent developments in the retirement plan arena, including:

      plan data (its uses for AI and managed accounts, privacy/cybersecurity aspects, possible PT concerns); ESG investments, particularly in light of recent statements from Blackrock and State Street; SECURE Act (what plan sponsors should be doing already, and some open questions for the future); and strategies to reduce DB plan liabilities and volatility (other than lump sum windows, annuity liftouts, and plan termination).

      Speakers:  Norma Mero, Time Warner; Kevin O’BrienIvins, Philips & Barker 


      5:15 – 5:20 pm               Day’s Wrap Up – Maureen Dry-Wasson

      5:30 – 7:00 pm               Members and Sponsors Cocktail Reception


      Kona Grill

      1 East Pratt Street (across the street from conference venue)

      7:00pm                         Small Group Dinners

      IBCN will provide suggestions for places nearby for folks to have dinner, and you can sign up by lunch time and we will attempt to make group reservations.

      Friday, October 21, 2022

      8:30 – 9:30 am              Continental Breakfast and Surprise Billing/Out-Of-Network Charges 

      Speaker:          Ashley Gillihan, Alston Bird 

      9:30 – 10:30 am            Current Landscape of State Laws and ERISA Preemption

      A discussion of the various state and local requirements impacting national employee benefit offerings. State and local leave laws, retirement and health plan related mandates, and the litigation landscape on ERISA preemption.

      Speakers:    Linda Way-Smith, Morgan Lewis; Dillon Clair, Director of State Advocacy and Litigation ERIC 

      10:30 – 10:45 am           Coffee/Networking Break

      10:45 – 11:45 am           DOL  Audits

      “You’ve got mail” and it’s a letter from EBSA stating the company’s plan has been selected for an audit. So, what’s next? This session will prepare in-house benefits counsel for, what could be, a multiple year process. Topics will include (i) areas of focus for EBSA, (ii) interview preparation, (iii) document requests and production considerations, and (iv) peer experiences with audits.

      Speakers:    Lisa Tavares, Venable [including colleague from Venable tbd

      11:45 – 12:45 pm           Blockchain Technology

      While many believe Blockchain and Bitcoin are synonymous, they are not; cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, is just one application of this emerging technology.  For employee benefits, Blockchain can streamline (and even eliminate) the role of some intermediaries and therefore, reduce costs and fees while maintaining trust, security, and accountability. This session will provide a basic understanding of Blockchain, its potential applications in the benefits area, and the legal issues it may present.

      Speaker:     Adam Greetis, Seyfarth Shaw 

      12:45 – 2:00pm            Lunch (presentation to start after 15 minutes)

      1:00 – 2:00pm              No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: ERISA, Voluntary Plans and Student Debt Restructuring

      Under ERISA, there are five statutory requirements for a plan to qualify as an "employee welfare benefit plan. And then there are all those reporting and disclosure obligations and a Fiduciary Standard. But what if you want to offer your employees new benefits but not be subject to ERISA – and your HR has been offered this great deal and a new fresh platform of benefits that we know your Millennial employees want! We will explore the hottest new benefit – a program designed to encourage employees to pay off their student loans by “matching” those payments with an employer nonelective contribution to the company’s 401(k) plan. There are also loan restructuring options available that employers are promoting on their “voluntary” platforms.  This session will discuss the DOL exemption for voluntary plans, what it is, what the current “status” is over (hint: it’s “endorsement”) and strategies to mitigate risk.

      Speakers:    Seth Peretta, Groom Law Group

      2:00 – 3:00 pm              Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the In-House Employee Benefits Lawyer  

      In-house employee benefits practitioners have unique opportunities and insights that can help clients identify, understand and address diversity, equity and inclusion challenges that may impact their workforce and business.  This session will explore topics such as drafting documents in gender neutral formats, benefit designs that take equity and inclusion into account, potential intersection between the ESG initiatives and company benefit programs, and focus of employee resource groups on design of company benefit programs.

      3:00-3:15 pm                 Closing Remarks – Maureen Dry-Wasson, Allegis Group


      In-House Benefits Counsel Network, P.O. Box 45, Riderrwood, MD  21139

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