With a legal practice specializing in taxation, executive compensation and employment benefits, David Eckhardt is constantly kept on his toes.
“My work is never dull,” said Eckhardt, an associate in Husch Blackwell’s industry group in Milwaukee for financial services and capital markets. “I feel like I can never learn enough about these issues. I have always enjoyed figuring out complicated problems so all of this fits in.”
Before joining Husch Blackwell, Eckhardt worked inside the national tax department of a Big 4 accounting firm in Chicago — an experience that has proved useful time and again when he’s advising clients.
“Tax law is similar to a maze that I enjoy figuring it all out,” said Eckhardt, who majored in economics and studied taxation theory while in college.
Taxes play a role in his other specialties — employee benefits, including health insurance, and executive compensation, Eckhardt said. Change is constant with the rules and regulations governing benefits and taxes, making it essential for him to stay up-to-date, he said.
“Clients expect you to know the changes in the law so you have to need to monitor how they affect them. There are a lot of complicated tax rules involving how executives can be compensated, which comes into play during the recruitment process,” Eckhardt said. “There are a lot of complex health and retirement plan issues, including new regulations under the ACA (Affordable Care Act), that you need to help clients get through.”
Eckhardt’s expertise in taxes is sought out by colleagues as they work on merger and acquisitions or other deals with tax implications. This past year saw him working on several notable deals such as the combination of 21 separate veterinary practices in 10 states into Mixed Animal Veterinary Associates of North America Inc. and Peaksware Holdings’ purchase of Alfred Music.
“David is regarded by clients and colleagues alike as a key contributor on major deals and frequently takes the lead role in developing the tax and benefits strategy that help to bring transactions to a successful close,” said Steve Renau, Husch Blackwell communications manager.
A few Wisconsin insurance companies also tap Eckhardt’s expertise concerning the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and various tax issues that might be connected with their insurance products, Renau added.
Husch Blackwell clients facing examinations by either the Internal Revenue Service or Department of Labor will often turn to Eckhardt for help.
“I take the lead in those issues and handle negotiations for the client as we look for the best possible remedy,” he said.
Eckhardt finds himself frequently working with the same group of clients. That consistency can provide its own rewards.
“You really get to know the clients and their business,” he said.