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Editor: Patricia (“Patty”) A. Shlonsky – Partner; Partner-In-Charge, Cleveland; Chair, Employee Benefits Group and Tax Practice Group; Management Committee, Ulmer & Berne

Patty serves as Partner-In-Charge of Ulmer & Berne’s Cleveland office. In addition to guiding the office’s development, client service, business, and operations efforts, Patty chairs the firm’s Employee Benefits and Tax Practice Groups. With more than 30 years of experience, Patty’s practice focuses on assisting clients in the establishment qualification, and maintenance of all types of employee benefit plans. She advises clients regarding employee benefit compliance issues, benefits issues which arise in mergers and acquisitions, privacy and data security issues under HIPAA, health benefits, executive compensation, and represents clients involved in governmental and private dispute resolution. Patty also has comprehensive experience handling all types of ERISA litigation. She has achieved the highest ranking, AV Preeminent®, from Martindale-Hubbell®, and is ranked as one of Ohio’s leading Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation lawyers by Chambers USA and is named to The Best Lawyers in America® in Employee Benefits Law.

Confessions from Patty:

CONFESSION NUMBER 1:

I am an ERISA lawyer and that means I spend my days dealing with the intricacies of the Internal Revenue Code, the obscurities of ERISA and the agonizing and yet rewarding task of solving complex problems. I spend my days talking with accountants, hr professionals, ceos, cfos and actuaries, and while some of my best friends are actuaries (really they are!), this is not exactly the “stuff that dreams are made of”. Employee benefits provides for creative thinking and problem solving in its critical, but narrow realm and sometimes I need a creative diversion. So what could be more perfect for a person who spends her day solving business problems, than to spend her free time studying how other people solve their personal problems. And what better way to do that than by reading fiction, where the characters pour out their longings, their hopes and fears and their disappointments and the story usually unfolds with a solution that is either satisfactory or tragic (my problem solving, by the way, never ends in tragedy!). Amazingly enough, sometimes fiction actually overlaps with ERISA. Did you know that Sara Paretsky included ERISA in at least two of her V.I. Warshawski novels, one involving a life insurance dispute and one involving pension fraud?

CONFESSION NUMBER 2:

I love books and particularly fiction. I am a book snob (which you might not have picked up on based on my V.I. Warshawski reference). I spend a significant amount of my nonworking waking hours reading books, thinking about books and talking about books. Some day I might even write a book. I sit on the Board of the Cuyahoga County Public Library (one of the top rated libraries of its size in the country, by the way – www.cuyahogalibrary.org) so that I can participate in encouraging others to love books and reading. It has been suggested to me that perhaps my love of books and libraries is too singularly focused, but I reject this observation as failing to comprehend the life changing impact of a truly great novel.

This blog is about an ERISA lawyer’s love and contemplation of books, especially fiction. I will write about what I am reading and what I think about what I am reading. Sometimes I might throw in a comment about some nonfiction. I would love to hear what you think about the books I discuss here.