Laura Ryan



Employee Benefits Practice Group

Thompson Hine LLP

Q. Describe your leadership within the firm and your practice.

A. I just completed a 10-year stint as Practice Group Leader of Thompson Hine’s Employee Benefits practice group. I led a group of 20 attorneys across our eight office locations. I viewed my leadership role as an opportunity to foster collaboration, encourage communication, and recognize and celebrate successes. At our regular practice group meetings, people are encouraged to talk about the issues our clients are facing, the client-assistance tools and resources we are developing, and the creative and innovative pro- grams we are bringing to the table. Working together and sharing information equipped each person in the group to better serve their clients’ needs and helped create a positive work environment. Fostering this type of environment within the practice group is a large part of the reason the group and its client base grew consistently under my leadership.

As I think about my next leadership role, I am inspired by a longtime passion of mine, which is the promotion of women and the development of female talent and leaders. Thompson Hine’s Spotlight on Women program is designed to foster an energetic and supportive atmosphere for women within our firm and throughout the larger business community. Thompson Hine was actually one of the first law firms to create a women’s initiative nationally. I am excited about my ability to devote more time and attention to this initiative and to helping propel its objectives forward.

Q. What kind of influence do you hope to have in your community and in your field?

A. The Thompson Hine employee benefits practice is a national-based practice serving clients across the United States. And while I have clients located throughout the country, most of my clients are based here in the greater Cincinnati region. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, whenever possible, I favored face-to-face meetings with these local clients. I found that those in-person connections were mutually beneficial for me and my clients. They allowed me to get to know their business better, enabling me to be proactive and anticipate their questions and needs rather than being reactive. When COVID-19 hit, and those same clients needed easy-to-understand explanations and practical, user-friendly advice on the is- sues they were facing due to the pandemic, it was so gratifying to be there for the employers in my community, to help them maneuver through this difficult and challenging time, and to serve as a source of critical and timely information and guidance. The benefits of the relationship building efforts I had made were obvious during the pandemic.

Q. How has the pandemic affected your role and the way you work?

A. The employee benefits arena is highly regulated and very complicated. Under normal circumstances it can be difficult for employers to stay abreast of everything they need to know to be compliant. During the COVID-19 crisis, these typical challenges have been unexpectedly magnified. Employers have had to make difficult decisions about their workforce and reexamine their employee benefit plans. New laws and new guidance are being issued at breakneck speed but the guidance does not provide answers to all the pandemic-triggered issues that employers are facing. I spend many long days and evenings talking to clients about the issues they need to think through, briefing them on newly issued laws and guidance, and advising them on the best course of action when the rules are not clear. It has required a never-ending flow of communication as business conditions and rules governing employee benefit plans are continuously evolving. The strong relationships that I have worked hard to cultivate, better enable me to provide the much-needed services and timely advice that my clients need during this pandemic.