ICLEF Speaker Spotlight: Gayle Skolnik

ICLEF is fortunate to have a lengthy list of faculty members who are instrumental in the quality and relevance of our educational programming. Our Speaker Spotlight series brings a sharper focus to these contributions.

The January 2012 Speaker Spotlight presents Gayle L. Skolnik, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Indianapolis. We appreciate Gayle’s willingness to share her expertise in Employee Benefits Law. In 2011 she chaired our CLE program entitled “Employee Benefits/ERISA : Moving into the Next Decade” and she presented another seminar this month that provides tips for lawyers in areas of practice that interact with the employee benefits area.

Ms. Skolnik represents employers, fiduciaries and service providers with respect to all aspects of employee benefit law, including counseling clients regarding pension and profit-sharing plans, compensation plans and  other benefits programs and practices. Gayle’s association with the Baker & Daniels law firm dates to her admission to the Indiana Bar in 1982. During her 30-year legal career she has been recognized as a leader in the employee benefits law area, including being chosen for Indiana Super Lawyers  and  The Best Lawyers In America. 

The recent merger of Baker & Daniels with the Minneapolis-based law firm of Faegre & Benson resulted in the 800-member firm of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.  This change represents an exciting professional outlook on the horizon for Gayle.  The combined services of the two firms results in not only an increase to 19 lawyers in the firm’s Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group, but enhancements of their international scope of practice. The firm of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP now operates out of 13 offices, nine in the U.S. and others in London, Beijing and Shanghai.

Gayle is not only a consistent and valued ICLEF faculty member, but she gives back to her community in other respects.  For example, she serves on the Board of Trustees of Midwest Academy of Indiana; and she has also been active in the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and Damar Services, Inc.  Yet somehow, she still sets family as her priority.

Obviously, Gayle has found the secret to balancing a brimming personal and professional life.  One of the keys that she mentions in her success at this balancing act, is working with people she likes.  Her law firm associates are both friends and colleagues, complimenting each others strong points and supporting one another.  “Having the relationships with colleagues that is enjoyable and encouraging every day makes it a pleasure to come to work.”

Sharing the experience gained in her legal career is another ingredient that Gayle considers important in her professional life. She mentions this aspect as one of the rewards of being an ICLEF faculty member. “The experience is both professionally and personally fulfilling.  I enjoy being an active part of the legal community and giving back to my profession in this way.  It is rewarding to realize you have something to share and can help someone else in their practice. “  Gayle also reflects on the fulfillment she realizes in participating with other professionals in a challenging arena where you must be on your toes, be up-to-date and informed at all times.  She especially looks forward to the thought-provoking discussions with both faculty and attendees.  In her words, being an ICLEF speaker is  “a particularly fun way to get CLE credits.”

In talking further with Gayle about how her career has progressed, we were curious as to whether she had seen a major change in her specific area of law that impacted her practice significantly.  She pointed to the explosion of substantive regulation of health and welfare plans that began with the enactment of COBRA in 1985 and continues with health care reform.  Other challenges that Gayle relishes include the fast pace of change (“New guidance comes out almost every day.”) and the extent to which benefits law relates to other practice areas. She mentions that there are very few areas of law now that do not intersect with employee benefits law.

The ICLEF seminar chaired by Gayle this month addresses the interaction between employee benefits law and labor and employment law.  She provides her expertise on avoiding pitfalls, identifying possible issues and knowing when to consult an employee benefits law expert. “Employee Benefits Law: 5 Key Points Employment Lawyers Need To Know,”  is an important three-hour CLE program for lawyers in many practice areas.  There will be video replays on the ICLEF calendar coming up.  Watch for an opportunity to benefit from this excellent program.

I want to express my personal appreciation for Gayle’s time and and patience in putting this Speaker Spotlight together.  Not only is she generous with her legal expertise for her fellow lawyers, but she is willing to add that extra touch to a non-lawyer’s legal-related writing effort.

ICLEF looks forward to more faculty contributions by Gayle Skolnik as they keep the quality and relevance of our CLE at high levels.

Gayle just recently hosted the  3 CLE ICLEF seminar, “Employee Benefits Law: 5 Key Points Employment Lawyers Need to Know“.  Click Here to view the Video Replay, the Online/On Demand Video or purchase the e-Publication of this Seminar.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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