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Attorney wants to simplify employee benefits law

A lawyer who admits he has benefited from the complexity of employee benefits law is encouraging his peers to simplify the process.

David Gordon is putting up $10,000 a year through the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel to recognize the best ideas for simplifying benefits law. The college, an education organization for employee benefits lawyers, envisions sponsoring the contest for at least the next five years. The first award will be announced in the fall of 2018. Entries are due April 1.

"A lot of benefits lawyers gripe that there should be simpler laws," the Los Angeles-based Mr. Gordon said in an interview. He is a former president of the college and a former senior partner at O'Melveny & Myers LLP. He is currently a managing director of Frederic W. Cook & Co. Inc., an executive compensation firm.

Laws "pick up unnecessary complexity over the years," Mr. Gordon said, noting that they become more complicated as legislators and regulators add new requirements to cover more people and circumstances. "There is never really a constituency for simplification."

Mr. Gordon said his simplification award isn't seeking to create a major policy change — just a desire to make laws easier to understand. He added that the college will publicize the winning proposal "heavily," but it won't make a formal submission to a regulatory or legislative body.

"Just because we are beneficiaries of complexity doesn't mean we like it," Mr. Gordon said. "Some of us who thrived on complexity would be glad to get rid of it."