Christine Zinter

Of Counsel

I believe my job is to advise my clients of the black and ‎white, and to work with them to understand their business ‎realities and to help them achieve the path offering the ‎least risk.

How I represent clients at Schwabe

The world of employee benefits—running the gamut from retirement plans (pensions and defined contribution arrangements), traditional group health plans, disability insurance and other income replacement vehicles, and even vacation and PTO policies—is a tangled morass of state and federal guidelines, compliance and reporting requirements, mandatory disclosures, and constant evolution. For nearly 30 years, originally as an insurance consultant, and the most recent 8 as a licensed attorney, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to guide my clients through a wide array of employee benefits issues, including ERISA, the ACA, HIPAA, COBRA, state insurance laws, and IRS and/or DOL audits. Furthermore, I have a strong background in “benefit adjacent” employment laws such as the FMLA, ADA, wage and hour laws, OSHA and workers’ compensation inquiries, EEOC and BOLI claims, and even a little bit of experience with labor law.

Throughout my career, I have been dedicated to delivering personalized employment counsel and benefits-related advice, catering to the needs of employer groups from both the private and public sectors. I can assist a sole proprietor or an expansive organization navigate the confusing rules and regulations inherent in providing employee benefits.

Providing employee benefits is often a company’s second-largest operating expense after employee wages. American businesses provide a large percentage of the American public with access to employer-sponsored health coverage and retirement plan funding without which many individuals would go without. I find it distressing to see employers get in trouble when their sincere efforts to provide such valuable financial services run afoul of obscure and sometimes inconsistent regulations. Due to this belief, I have a genuine enthusiasm for my work that is mirrored in my active involvement with associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management, the local Portland HR Management Association, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.


  • Draft ERISA-compliant Summary Plan Descriptions, retirement and health & welfare Plan Documents, and other mandatory benefit communication materials.
  • Represent clients undergoing IRS or DOL audits of employee benefit plan provisions.
  • Draft and/or update employee handbooks, particularly for multi-state employers managing conflicting employment laws.
  • Represents businesses in Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries matters.
  • Assist with health insurance company and pharmacy benefit management operations, including Medicare audits, inquiries from Boards of Pharmacy, and state insurance regulators.


  • St. Louis University School of Law, Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, Certificate in Health ‎Law Studies, (2015)‎
  • University of Washington, Master of Business Administration, (1991)‎
  • University of Portland, Bachelor of Arts (1989‎ ‎)‎


  • Oregon State Courts
  • Washington State Courts


American Bar Association (2015 – present)

Oregon Bar Association (2015 – present)

Washington State Bar Association (2019 – present)

Western Pension & Benefits Council, Portland Chapter (2021 – 2022)

Society for Human Resource Management (early 1990s)

Portland HR Management Association

International Foundation of EE Benefit Plans (early 1990s)

International Society of Certified EE Benefit Specialists  (early 1990s)

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