Eighth National Forum

October 28-30, 2024

Baltimore, Maryland

Planning is in the works for the Eighth National Forum which will be held in Baltimore beginning the evening of October 28 and continuing through the afternoon of October 30, 2024.  More information will be posted in the coming months.

Information on the Seventh National Forum is below:

Copies of the presentations are available on the Members Only Content section of the website.



    Baltimore, MD

    October 19-21, 2022

    Wednesday, October 19, 2022

    Welcome Reception/Activity -- Time 6-9 pm


    Mustang Alley

    1300 Bank Street, Second Floor, Baltimore MD 21231

    Phone: 410-522-2695

    If you are in town the night before the forum starts, please join fellow IBCN members to pre-game by bowling, socializing and sharing some fun food and drinks.  There is no additional charge for this event.

    Organizers:  Mary Jones & Lynne Durbin

    Thursday, October 20, 2022

    Program and Networking

    Location:   Center Club, 100 Light Street, Baltimore MD

    8:30 – 9:00 am               Full Breakfast

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

    9:15 – 10:15 am             Elections Have Consequences:  An Insider View of the Politics, Procedure and Policy                                           Shaping Future Employee Benefits

    Thought leaders from the American Benefits Council will share insights into what the future might hold in the employee benefits space from a policy and political standpoint and help us think about what that might mean for our clients and practices.

    Speakers: American Benefits Council -- James A. Klein, President; Lynn D. Dudley, Senior Vice President, Global Retirement & Compensation Policy; Ilyse Schuman, Senior Vice President, Health Policy; and Katy Johnson, Senior Counsel, Health Policy

    Organizer: Charles Grandy, Eli Lilly and Company

    10:15 - 11:15 am            ERISA Litigation Update

    It seems like ERISA is one of the most litigated federal statutes in existence and that the pace of litigation is accelerating.  It's crucial for in-house practitioners to understand current case law developments and consider litigation risk when advising clients.  Our speakers will discuss some of the most important recent decisions impacting ERISA plans, provide ideas on how in-house counsel can help clients understand the implications of those decisions for their companies' plans, and offer thoughts on emerging issues in the space.

    Speakers:  Sarah Bassler Millar (Chicago, IL) and Kim Jones (Chicago, IL), Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP

    Organizer:   Jessica McNamara, IBM

    11:15 - 11:30 am          Coffee & Networking Break

    11:30 - 12:30 pm          From the ABC's to the 280G's! Compensation and Benefit Considerations in Mergers                                             and Acquisitions

    This expert panel will focus on a variety of critical compensation and benefit considerations arising in mergers and acquisitions.  The panel will provide an overview of mergers and acquisitions, including fundamental stages and considerations in any M&A transaction, and highlight some of the more challenging topics and traps for the unwary relating to complicated deal features.

    Speakers:  William Woolston, Covington & Burling, LLP; Charles Grandy, Eli Lilly and Company; Wendy Schick-Dougall, AIG

    Organizers:  Charles Grandy, Eli Lilly and Company; Wendy Schick-Dougall, AIG

    12:30 - 1:45 pm          Lunch (presentation to start after 15 minutes)

    [12:45 - 1:45 pm]         ERISA Navigation Post-Dobbs: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?

    The Dobbs decision raises a myriad of complex issues for the ERISA practitioner.  Join our diverse panel of speakers for a thought-provoking discussion of issues such as:

    • Travel reimbursement for abortion procedures and what else companies are providing to their emplloyees
    • What should be negotiating with your third-party providers?
    • Litigation update and prognostication on what's next
    • ERISA preemption of state laws
    • Constitutional law issues - state and federal
    • What other impact may be coming (for example, transgender surgery, IVF)?

    Speakers:  Laura Taylor, Eversheds Sutherland; Mark Graber, University of Maryland School of Law; Adnrea Gehman, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; Garrett Fenton, Microsoft

    Organizer/Moderator:  Maureen Dry-Wasson, Allegis Group

    1:45 - 2:45 pm          Fringe Benefits:  What Don't I know?

    With a tight labor market, employers are looking beyond traditional group health, welfare and c compensation programs to attract and retain talent, and that talent is looking for increased flexibility.  During this session, we will explore some issues that employers should consider with respect to certain benefits employers may offer to accommodate increased flexibility and teleworking arrangements in a post-pandemic environment.

    Speaker:  Michael Chittenden, Covington & Burling

    Organizers:  Boyd Brown, Uber; Mary Jones, Microsoft

    2:45 -3:45 pm          Talking with Your Compensation Committee

    There are a number of hot topics your Compensation Committee might be considering, such as ESG and the new orientation of the SEC under the Biden administration:

      • 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?
      • Recent SEC Reuglatory Activity--clawbacks, pay-for-performance,10b5-1 plans, insider trading disclosure and spring-loaded awards
      • 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 ESG metrics in incentive compensation citing investor feedback, how are they being incorporated and what are the key considerations?
      Speakers: Julia Thompson and Maj Vaseghi, Latham & Watkins

      Organizer: Mark Burgreen, Lucid Motors

      3:45 – 4:45 pm              Retirement Plan Hot Topics

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

      plan data, cybersecurity and other vendor contracting related issues; investment topics such as ESG investments, TDFs, managed accounts, brokerage windows.  We will also touch on DB-specific and non-qualified plan issues.

      Speakers:  Jodi Epstein and Spencer Walters, Ivins, Phillips & Barker

      Organizers:  Maya Crone, Freddie Mac; Garrett Fenton, Microsoft


      4:45 – 5:00 pm               Day’s Wrap Up – Maya Crone, Freddie Mac, Vice-Chair, IBCN

      5:15 – 7:00 pm              Members and Sponsors Cocktail Reception (sponsor firms invited and all speakers)


      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 help folks who are interested form groups to create break-out groups to dine together.

      Friday, October 21, 2022

      8:30 – 9:30 am              Continental Breakfast (and presentation)

                                            What You Need to Be Paying Attention to With Your H&W Plans

      The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) contains a number of significant rules impacting group health plans, sponsors, insurers and administrators.  Prior to the CAA, theTrump administration issued final transparency regulations that require group health plans to provide health plan cost information in different situations.

      This session will address the health plan related provisions in the CAA and the transparency regulations and the impact that those rules had and continue to have on the administration of group health plans, including:

      The balance billing protections in the "No Surprises Act" portion of the CAA:
      Fee Disclosure rules for brokerage and consulting services;
      Rx Reporting;
      Gag clause prohibition for contracts;
      Mental Health Parity NQTL analysis report;
      Public price transparency for amounts paid by plan;
      Cost share estimate tool under the transparency rules and the similar advanced EOB under the CAA;
      And more!

      Speaker:  Ashley Gillihan, Alston Bird 

      Organizer:  Pat Spraguer, recently retired from Express Scripts/CIGNA

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

      ERISA preemption has been a foundation of that statute since its inception and was crucial to bipartisan support of the statute when it passed in 1974. Is ERISA preemption now being eroded by new mandates at the state and local level?  How are courts responding?

      This session will examine ERISA preemption and various state/local requirements impacting national employee benefit offerings and programs. Topics will include state and local leave requirements, retirement and health & welfare mandates, the current post-Rutledge landscape on ERISA preemption.  

      Speakers:    Claire Bouffard, Morgan Lewis 7 Bockius LLP, Dillon Clair, Director of State Advocacy and Litigation, The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC)

      Organizer:  Pat Spraguer, recently retired from Express Scripts/Cigna

      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 for retirement plan audits, (ii) interview preparation, (iii) document requests and production considerations, and (iv) MHPAEA non-quantitative treatment limitations requests from the DOL.

      Speakers:    Lisa Tavares, Venable LLP (Washington, DC) and Juliana Reno, Venable LLP (New York, NY)

      Organizer:  Monique McDowell, Southern Company

      11:45 – 12:45 pm           Blockchain and Benefits

      Blockchain technology, the technology that underlies Bitcoin, has the potential to completely transform the world of benefits and executive compensation by strengthening trust and security in benefits and compensation transactions, reducing costs and potentially reducing and even eliminating costly intermediaries.  Although blockchain technology has completely transformed some industries, it’s only beginning to be applied in the employee benefits and executive compensation space.  But when it is applied to the benefits and executive compensation space, it will transform the way employers sponsor plans, the way employees experience benefits and compensation and the way administrators administer benefits and compensation.  The role of the ERISA attorney will similarly be transformed.  

      This session will provide a basic understanding of blockchain technology and describe some examples of how it’s being used.  We will then explore how the role of the benefits and executive compensation attorney may change once the technology is deployed more deeply into benefits and executive compensation.

      Speaker:     Adam Greetis, Seyfarth Shaw 

      Organizer:  Chris Rylands, HUB

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

      1:00 – 2:00pm              Voluntary, Ancillary & "Creative" Benefits:  Avoiding Traps for the Unwary 

      Your HR colleagues have been offered this great deal and a new fresh platform of benefits that we know the Millenials and Gen Z will want!  But what about ERISA and the other federal laws that could apply?  We will begin by exploring when ERISA applies, especially to certain types of so-called “voluntary benefits.” We will then turn our attention to other "innovative" benefit products and designs--including new fertility and family planning benefit designs/products, expanded EAPs and telehealth programs and various strategies to assist or otherwise encourage employees to pay of student loans.  

      This session will explore the contours of ERISA-covered plans and the various exceptions that may apply, and the potential application of other state and federal laws, such as the Internal Revenue Code.  We will end with a discussion of some best practices designed to manage risk for your enterprise when considering the adoption of new benefit designs and third party products. 

      Speakers:    Seth T. Peretta, Groom Law Group; Sarah C. Richards, MetLife

      Organizers:  Joan Brown, Trustee of Fire and Police Pension Association for Colorado; Sarah Richards, MetLife

      2:00 – 2:45 pm              Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and In-House Employee Benefits Practice

      In-house employee benefits practitioners have unique insights that can help clients identify, understand and address DE&I challenges impacting their client’s workforce and business.  We also have a powerful position from which to promote the practice of employee benefits law, to attract new attorneys to this practice area and to increase diversity in the practice’s ranks. 

      This session will kick-off an exploration of these and related topics that are planned for 2023 and beyond.  Among other things, we will discuss the recent efforts of some our members to promote the practice of employee benefits law to law students, and how other members can engage in similar conversations at law schools in their locales.  IBCN plans is to continue this discussion after the National Forum through a series of virtual sessions on related topics in 2023  - this session will give you a sneak peek at what’s coming up in that regard. 
      Speakers:  Maureen Dry-Wasson, Allegis Group; Maya Crone, Freddie Mac

      Organizers:  Jill Keblawi, Marriott; Maya Crone, Freddie Mac

      2:45- 3:00 pm                 Closing Remarks – Maya Crone, Freddie Mac

      General Information

      We are excited to announce that this year's forum will take place in Baltimore, Maryland at The Center Club, 100 Light Street, in the heart of downtown Baltimore, across from the Inner Harbor and its many attractions.

      Conference attendees are responsible for making their own travel arrangements and hotel accommodations. Please note that there are many great hotel options at all price points near the meeting venue. Our conference venue provides discounts at several hotels if you mention that you are attending an event at The Center Club.  See their list here! Both the Lord Baltimore and the Royal Sonesta are easy walking distance.  The other two are Uber/Lyft/taxi rides away.  Book your hotel early to get the best possible rates!


      Register Today -- Don't miss this opportunity to join your colleagues for two days of education, inspiration and networking! In addition to an excellent program, your registration fee includes a continental breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks on Thursday and Friday, the Wednesday evening pre-conference welcome reception at Mustang Alley, and the sponsor reception on Thursday evening.

      Conference Fee = $100

      Registration is limited to IBCN members in good standing in 2022.

      You may register by clicking this link.

      Cancellation Policy

      All fees are fully refundable until September 30.  Between October 1 and 10, requests for refunds will be granted a 50% credit, which can be applied to next year's membership.  After October 10, no refunds will be available. 

      Questions? ldurbin@inlinellc.net

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

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