Mary V. Bauman is a member of the firm and has been practicing law since 1986. Her practice is focused on representing employers with regard to employee benefits and executive compensation.
Ms. Bauman works with employers in establishing, amending, and terminating employee benefit plans of all types. The types of plans include health plans, retiree health plans, Section 125 plans, disability plans, 401(k) plans, defined benefit pension plans, 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity plans and 457 deferred compensation plans.
While Ms. Bauman counsels employers in all aspects of their employee benefit program, her primary focus is on health and welfare benefits. Not only does Ms. Bauman prepare plan documents and summary plan descriptions for these benefits, but she also often plays a consulting role to help the employer strategize for ways to better control plan costs and achieve human resources objectives in connection with a plan. In providing this representation, Ms. Bauman has worked with insurance regulators in the state of Michigan as well as several other states. Ms. Bauman has also represented employers that have been under investigation or audit with the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor in connection with their employee benefit plans.
Employee benefit compliance is becoming increasingly challenging. Ms. Bauman works with employers in complying with various laws affecting health and welfare benefit plans such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Health Care Reform), HIPAA privacy and security rules, COBRA, and the Medicare Part D regulations.
Ms. Bauman works for numerous for-profit employers, ranging in size from a single employee to companies with up to 100,000 employees. In addition, she represents several publicly traded companies. Tax-exempt employers also engage Ms. Bauman for employee benefit services. Ms. Bauman represents several churches and church-related organizations, as well as numerous hospitals, school districts and municipalities. Ms. Bauman represents several clients who perform various aspects of employee benefit administration. Working with these clients has provided useful practical knowledge as to how employee benefit administrative relationships between employers and employee benefit administrative businesses can more effectively work together.
Health Care Reform
In 2010, Miller Johnson established a Health Care Reform Team to assist clients in addressing the multitude of issues arising in connection with the new ACA legislation. Because the most significant changes affect employers with respect to their health benefit plans, Ms. Bauman was the natural choice to lead the firm’s initiative in this effort. The Health Care Reform Team is committed to informing clients of new regulations as they are released in order to ensure compliance. This communication is accomplished through publications like the Health Care Reform Priority Alert newsletter and our Client Alert emails, in addition to webinars and seminars.
Approach to the Practice of Law
Ms. Bauman believes in breaking down the technical and complicated employee benefit rules into understandable terms for her clients. She also understands the importance of identifying the most critical issues for employers to consider and giving them a clear understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of their key options. To accomplish this, Ms. Bauman drafts legal documents in plain English and the documents are sent to the client with an extensive cover letter that is intended to be a roadmap in reading and understanding the document. Ms. Bauman is the chair of Miller Johnson’s Employee Benefits Practice Group. This group recognizes the challenge for employers to stay current on new employee benefit developments. To assist the firm’s clients, Ms. Bauman, along with the other members of the firm’s Employee Benefits Practice Group, notify clients of key new legal developments in periodic Client Alert e-mails. Clients appreciate this proactive approach in keeping them informed of legal changes. The Employee Benefits Practice Group also conducts workshops and seminars regarding timely issues.
Professional Activities and Honors
Mary V. Bauman was recognized as a 2012 Client Service All-Star by BTI Consulting. Bauman was the only woman in Michigan named as an All-Star, along with three other men, and one of only three attorneys in her practice area (employee benefits) to receive this honor. Client She was acknowledged as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.” This recognition by the Grand Rapids Business Journal is based on professional achievements and community contributions. Ms. Bauman was one of the 20 women honored by Michigan Lawyers Weekly for 2011 “Women in the Law.” This honors and recognizes her commitment to excellence in the practice of law, accomplished leadership, successful mentorship, and significant contributions to volunteerism.
Ms. Bauman is recommended by Chambers USA for Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation. She was named as Best Lawyers 2015 Grand Rapids Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law Lawyer of the Year. Ms. Bauman is listed in the “Best Lawyers in America®” for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law and recognized as a Michigan “Super Lawyer” for Employee Benefits/ERISA.
She is a member of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan and American Bar Association. She is also involved in the Taxation section of the American Bar Association. Ms. Bauman served on the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Pipeline Committee. She also served as Miller Johnson's Diversity Partner and chaired the Diversity Council which leads the firm initiatives to further establish and advance Miller Johnson’s historic commitments to diversity among attorneys, employees, and vendors. She received the 2011 Legacy Award along with several other Grand Rapids lawyers for professional and personal contributions in promoting diversity in the community. Ms. Bauman was a member of the firm’s management committee and served as vice-chair.
Ms. Bauman currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Hope College and served as Chair from 2011 to 2016. She was the first woman to serve in that role in the history of the institution. She was a member of the West Michigan Regional Advisory Council for Inforum – a professional women’s alliance. In the past, she has served on the board of trustees of the Forest Hills Educational Foundation, as treasurer and a member of the board of directors of Arbor Circle Corporation; and a member of the board of directors of HHS, Health Options. Ms. Bauman was chair of the insurance committee and a member of the Board of Benefit Services for the Reformed Church in America; and Academic Affairs chairperson and a member of the board of trustees of Western Theological Seminary.
Ms. Bauman received her law degree, summa cum laude, in 1986 from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She also received a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in 1980 from Hope College. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Michigan.