I had a discussion with a client concerning their multiple employer Plan and the adopting employer’s request for more information that they’re legally entitled to. I said to the client that you have to weigh what you can disclose against what they want and it’s all about managing relationships because every adopting employer is different and most wouldn’t want to know about everything the plan does.
It reminded me of one of my favorite stories I have as an ERISA attorney in managing a client relationship. At that semi-prestigious law firm I worked, one of the big partners there had me serve as counsel to a union plan. The previous partner who worked on it clued me on to what the client and the other providers expected. Early on, I had an issue about some of the meetings and the client sat me down to just let me know what they expected and how I needed to meet those expectations. Ever since that talk, it was great.
When I was leaving the firm, I told my replacement exactly how the client operated along with the other service providers and how it was a collaborative process in running and documenting the meeting. My replacement said that wasn’t the way she operated and the big partner agreed that what I did was just too much for the client. My replacement was a disaster and the client was probably going to fire her and the firm if she didn’t decide to quit 6 months in. Her replacement was the “top” ERISA partner at the firm and I italicize it because she was not as great as Super Lawyers magazine said she was. Needless to say, the client terminated her eventually.
Every client is different; every client has different expectations. You have to change the way you operate sometimes to meet their needs.