Lyndsey Barnett was a high school senior in Toledo, on the cheerleading squad when it qualified for nationals in Orlando. It was the first team in her school’s history to be involved in a national competition, where it’s more about gymnastics, real athleticism, building human towers and flipping each other around than you might think of when you normally think of cheerleading. It’s called stunting.
But the principal decided not to let the kids go. No way, he said, forget it. His reason, Lyndsey says, was that they would miss three days of school. A grass-roots ruckus ensued. Lyndsey’s parents got involved. Her father, who owns a car dealership, got every small business in the school district that had outdoor marquees to post signs that read “We Support the Whitmer Cheerleaders.”
The Toledo Blade ran numerous stories. The local NBC affiliate aired a segment – a cheerleader’s parents vs. the principal. Her parents called school board members. Some 250 folks showed up for the school board meeting when the issue came up for reconsideration on the agenda. The kids showed up in their uniforms and did a few cheers.
The board overruled the principal but told the cheerleaders they’d have to come up with the $15,000 it would cost to make the trip. Which they gladly did. As it turns out, they didn’t win, place or show – but Lyndsey learned a lesson that has taken her a long way. She learned that if you really want something, you can find a way to make it happen.
“I’m essentially a clone of my father. I don’t do well with ‘no,’” she says.
She considers herself analytical, persuasive, stubborn, extremely loyal and a planner. She has known people who have had this goal or that, but they never planned how to make it happen. “They just wander along and hope things will work out. I’m not that way.”
Lyndsey’s parents didn’t go to college. She says they barely knew anyone who did, with the exception of an uncle who was a lawyer. She admired him, wanted to be like him and mapped out a path to make it happen.
One other note about Lyndsey is that relationships matter to her in a big way. Her office is fully equipped with photos of her with her friends and family.
“I don’t have a lot of ‘acquaintance’-type friends. My friends are almost all best friends. I think the fact that I had 14 bridesmaids in my wedding and had a serious problem narrowing it to 14 pretty much says it all."
“With clients, I think it’s a similar dynamic. I pride myself in being a good friend, really good. I think that’s a quality you need to build a good client practice. Clients are more likely to come back to you if they like you, if they trust you. If any of my friends have a need, I’m there for them. It’s the same with my clients. People are wired in such a way that they give that back. It’s simple, really – you get what you give.”
Lyndsey is the Chair of the Firm’s Business & Finance Department and was previously the Chair of the Benefits & Compensation Practice Group. One aspect of Lyndsey’s practice involves counseling employers with respect to the development of employee benefit strategies to assist in attracting, motivating and retaining a high quality work force. As a former tax associate for a Big Five accounting firm, Lyndsey understands the cost and financial impact that benefit decisions have on a company’s bottom line. Lyndsey takes a practical approach with clients and encourages them to be proactive with their benefit strategies. She enjoys presenting on benefit topics and frequently does so both locally and regionally.
Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, a portion of Lyndsey’s practice has largely become focused on welfare benefit plans, including self-insured medical, dental, prescription drug and vision plans, as well as long and short-term disability plans, cafeteria plans, wrap plans, and wellness programs. While Lyndsey still works with employers on their qualified and nonqualified plan issues, a substantial portion of her day-to-day activity is spent on strategizing with clients on the ACA, including compliance with the shared responsibility mandates, IRS reporting, Cadillac Tax planning and compliance with the 1557 nondiscrimination rules.
Lyndsey has assisted many employers with HIPAA compliance for their self-funded health plans. She assists clients in developing HIPAA policies and procedures, completing their risk assessment, training their employees and reacting to breaches of protected health information. Her knowledge of HIPAA also extends to providers, especially in the long-term care community, and business associates.
Lyndsey is also the Vice Chair of the Financial Services Group and chairs the ERISA Advisory Services sub-group. She assists financial institutions to ensure the services they provide to retirement plans are compliant with the law. She reviews and prepares various legal documents, including investment management agreements, service agreements, disclosure statements, fee disclosures and various other notices and communications. She also partners with these clients to assist them in providing practical solutions for their clients’ problems when issues arise in their retirement plans.
Lyndsey resides in Anderson Township with her spouse, Dan, and two children, Alexa and Jaxson. She loves to travel (especially to wine regions), spend time with family and friends, and watch sports (especially her beloved Detroit Lions).