It has been the busiest season of Heather Lohman’s entire career. The managing counsel for employment law and litigation at professional employer organization Insperity—who spent nearly fifteen years litigating at renowned firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (and jokes that her sleep cycle has never recovered)—just hasn’t seen anything like this before.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in new federal and state laws that, given Insperity’s business is providing HR, payroll, and employee benefits solutions, managed to affect virtually every part of the company’s operation. The economic downturn and huge spike in unemployment also meant that Insperity was flooded with questions about benefits, terminations and rehiring, and paycheck protection issues for its clients.
“It has been the busiest season, but it has also been the most rewarding,” Lohman says. “This legal department has worked harder than maybe it ever has. We’ve dedicated ourselves night and day in our own roles to understanding these new laws and thinking ahead about what Insperity’s clients—small- to medium-sized businesses—are going to be facing. Not to mention the overall business community.”
Lohman’s pride in her all-female legal team is evident, as is her clear dedication to making sure Insperity’s clients receive all the support they need in one of the most challenging economic conditions in modern history.
From the 68th Floor
Lohman admits that the human resources industry has provided the lifelong litigator challenges she wasn’t entirely ready for coming from Skadden Arps. “Coming from financial, securities, and complex business litigation, which can feel very impersonal, to the HR and employment litigation world, which is inevitably extraordinarily personal, really introduces a new dynamic to my job,” the attorney says. “I underestimated how difficult the human resources world and employment litigation would be.”
Lohman says her confidence in distilling the cold, hard facts of a business transaction didn’t translate as readily to the complicated and often emotional aspects that her job now entails.
The transition from private practice to in-house is most readily illustrated in the view from Lohman’s office. “I went from a downtown Houston high-rise on the sixty-eighth floor to the fourth floor of a wooded, suburban office building forty-five minutes north of the city,” Lohman says, chuckling.
“My job changed so much. Just given how wide-ranging it is: from benefits to workers’ compensation to human resources support to payroll processing to more general aspects of advising a publicly traded company with fiduciary duties and reporting requirements. There are a lot of pockets of knowledge that I had to learn swiftly.”
Lohman has readily absorbed this knowledge since joining Insperity, and today, her external partners offer high praise for her handling of any legal issue that comes her way. “Heather is an outstanding litigation strategist,” says John M. Polson, a partner at Fisher Phillips. “She always has a clear vision of the big picture while tackling the most intricate details that can make the difference in complex cases.”
Insperity’s culture, Lohman says, has been a vitally important cornerstone of building out her knowledge base. “It’s hard for me to adequately state how important the culture at Insperity is,” Lohman says. “Our CEO has written the book on it. I realize that ‘doing the right thing’ is such a catchphrase, but it’s genuinely something we discuss all the time; I see it play out every day.”
Strong internal culture, the attorney says, is imperative because Insperity takes an active interest in helping its clients develop their own tailored culture. “You have to practice what you preach,” Lohman says.
Weathering the Storm
The culture of Lohman’s team is an extension of the core values built into Insperity’s corporate DNA. But the lawyer’s competitive streak relays a hope and belief that her team, one whose makeup is far outside the legal norm, is the best Insperity has to offer.
“My team isn’t just primarily female,” Lohman gently corrects. “We’re entirely female.” Lohman leads a team of four female labor and employment lawyers, three of whom are board certified; a female paralegal; and two female legal assistants.
Lohman’s belief that her team is truly the best has faced its hardest challenge to date with the COVID-19 crisis. “Insperity has small- and medium-sized clients in all fifty states, and we want to put them in the best possible position to weather this storm,” Lohman explains. “We’ve all heard that we’re in the same boat, but I don’t really think that’s true for Insperity’s clients. My team understands that, while we may all be in the same ocean, we want Insperity’s clients to be lucky to be in Insperity’s boat.”
At the time of speaking, the real economic impacts of the COVID crisis had yet to unfold, and no one is more aware of that fact than Lohman. “We’re bracing for the financial impacts of this crisis for our clients,” the attorney says. “We’re keeping a chart of all the reopening requirements in every city in which we operate and helping our clients establish best practices for that process. It’s been a massive, massive effort. We have to adapt to changes every day, and sometimes, every hour.”
In spite of the crises, or perhaps because of it, Lohman says Insperity has had the opportunity to demonstrate its worth to its clients. The legal team continues to provide Insperity with the resources to help inform clients about new laws and regulations that could dramatically affect their businesses—demonstrating in these unprecedented times the value that Insperity can provide.
“We’ll continue to anticipate issues and position our clients to be in the best possible position during this really difficult time,” Lohman says. “I’m so proud of this department under the leadership of our general counsel. When we all look back on this, it’s going to be one of the most rewarding times of our careers.”
Fisher Phillips is a national labor and employment law firm. The firm operates thirty-six offices throughout the United States. The firm has attorneys admitted to practice in forty-three states and the District of Columbia.
Fisher Phillips is ranked as one of the top labor and employment law firms in the United States by Chambers USA 2019. The firm also earned forty individual attorney rankings. Fifteen offices were ranked among the top labor and employment law firms in their respective states.
Fisher Phillips was named to the 2019 Best Law Firms by US News—Best Lawyers. The firm was named 2019 Law Firm of the Year for Labor and Employment Litigation. The firm received National Tier 1 Rankings for its employment and labor law practices and its labor and employment litigation practice.
The firm’s professional employer organization (PEO) practice group represents PEOs throughout the country, leveraging many years of experience in the industry. We support PEOs in claims oversight, litigation, tax, benefits, insurance, immigration, start-up consulting, mergers and acquisitions, contracts, compliance, and government relations.