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The ERISA Health Benefits Law Outlook Under a Biden Administration

Speaker(s): Benjamin J. Conley, Colin Goldfinch, Jennifer A. Kraft
Recorded on: Mar. 24, 2021
PLI Program #: 322380

Ben Conley is a partner in Seyfarth’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Department in Chicago. He counsels clients on qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and executive compensation. He regularly advises clients on defined benefit and defined contribution plan compliance, including corrections for plan operational errors. 

Ben assists clients in drafting plan documents, plan amendments, and participant communications. He also advises clients on health & welfare plan compliance, including medical and dental plans, cafeteria plans, flexible spending accounts and dependent care spending accounts. Ben counsels clients on plan design decisions relating to COBRA, HIPAA privacy regulations, and health care reform legislation.

Ben serves on the Advisory Board of the Health Care Reform Center & Policy Institute, a newly formed national “think tank” made up of the nation’s leading lawyers, consultants, government representatives and state insurance agents to influence the development of new rules and regulations under Health Care Reform. Ben is a member of the firm's Health Care Reform Team. This cross-departmental team of lawyers was formed to focus on how health care reform will affect our clients. Ben started closely following health care reform well before it was passed into law. He regularly consults with governmental agencies on health care reform developments and has submitted comments on health care reform interim regulations on behalf of clients. Ben has presented extensively on health care reform and what it means for businesses, including leading the Healthcare Reform Certification Program offered by the Employer Healthcare Congress.

Ben also serves on the Steering Committee for the Worldwide Employee Benefits Network - Chicago Western Suburbs. He has written articles concerning health care reform legislation, employer wellness programs, fiduciary responsibilities, claims review procedures and retiree medical benefits.

Ben is recognized as a Recommended Attorney for Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans Design by The Legal 500 (2020 and 2021), and is listed in Best Lawyers in America for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law. He contributes regularly to Seyfarth’s employee benefits blog, Beneficially Yours.

Prior to joining Seyfarth, Ben was a lead articles editor for the Washington & Lee University Law Review.

Jennifer is a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.  In the battle for recruiting and retention, employers often look to their benefits packages to help serve as a differentiator. Clients turn to Jennifer for advice on cutting-edge benefits, as well as the tried and true basics that form the foundation of a great benefits plan. She guides her clients through the myriad of intersecting (and ever-changing) benefits laws, counseling them on approaches that reduce risk and prevent mistakes.

Jennifer began her practice in employment litigation almost 20 years ago, before shifting to employee benefits. This experience provides her with an understanding of the "real world" that employers face on a day-to-day basis, and how to be practical in finding legally sound solutions that meet the business needs of her clients.

Jennifer advises clients on the design, administration, and fiduciary responsibilities related to qualified retirement plans (401(k), traditional defined benefit and cash balance plans) and welfare benefit plans. Her experience in this area includes engaging with the Department of Labor, IRS, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on behalf of employers and plan fiduciaries, addressing plan corrections, assisting with significant corporate and plan spinoff and merger transactions with related integration issues, negotiating vendor contracts, and facilitating transitions to new record-keepers.

Jennifer also regularly counsels on welfare benefits issues, including wellness programs. She has assisted a number of clients with the transition to retiree medical exchanges and has counseled and trained clients extensively on HIPAA compliance. Jennifer has also helped numerous clients deal with changes in the economy through the design, implementation, and administration of severance plans.

As a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Jennifer delivers increased value to her clients at a time when more is expected of them. Drawing upon Seyfarth's deep capabilities in project management and technology, she continually improves her practice and the way her clients experience service delivery.

Jennifer is also vice-chair of the Seyfarth's Women's Network, coordinating the efforts of all Seyfarth offices to promote and encourage opportunities for our women attorneys. The Women's Network provides programming on topics important to women in the legal and business roles at the firm, and leads some of the firm's global philanthropic efforts to support organizations for girls and women locally and in developing countries.

Jennifer's favorite thing about Seyfarth has always been the people. She enjoys working collaboratively across all of the firm's practice groups to provide top-level advice for her clients in a variety of areas. Her clients also appreciate her ability to tap into the vast experience of the firm's large employee benefits team across the country.

Jennifer graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota after obtaining her BA with distinction from the University of Michigan.  Jennifer was named to Crain’s Chicago 2019 List of "Notable Gen X Leaders in Law", to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s “Top 50 Women in Law” in 2021 and was recognized as a leading individual in the 2021 Chambers USA rankings for Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation.