Carla N. McKain

Carla N. McKain

Ithaca, New York

Ms. McKain practices in the area of employee benefits, representing employees or beneficiaries who seek health, disability, or retirement benefits offered by their employers. She files claims, appeals denied claims, and litigates denied claims that have gone through the administrative appeal process with the plan or insurance company. She also helps clients and attorneys negotiate and/or draft Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) related to asset division in a divorce. QDROs are also a very effective way to recoup back child support and, because ERISA is a federal law, it doesn’t matter if the 401(k) plan is located outside your state—so long as the QDRO process is done properly, the retirement plan will have to disburse the funds owed to you as directed in the QDRO.

Areas of Practice

  • Health and Mental Health Benefits
  • Disability Benefits
  • Retirement Benefits
  • Life Insurance
  • Dividing Benefits (QDROs and QMCSOs)
  • Other employer-provided plans

Litigation Percentage

  • 70% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Veterans Benefits, US Department of Veterans Affairs

Bar Admissions

  • New York, 2008
  • Pennsylvania, 1989
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1989
  • U.S. District Court Western District of New York, 2011
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of New York, 2010
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, 2011
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit, 2012


  • American University, Washington College of Law, Washington, District of Columbia
    • J.D. - 1988
    • Law Journal: International Law Journal, Articles Editor, 1986 - 1988
  • Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York
    • B.A. - 1985
    • Major: Political Science


  • QDROs for Judges, 2014
  • ERISA for general practitioners, TCBA, 2014
  • QDROs, Broome County Bar Association, 2017
  • QDROs, Broome County Bar Association, 2015
  • QDROs, Tomkins County Bar Association, 2015

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • New York State Bar Association, Member
  • Tompkins County Bar Association, Director 2016 -2017; Vice President 2017 - present
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, Finger Lakes Chapter, Member
  • American Bar Association, Member
  • Tompkins County Bar Association, Law Day Committee Chair, 2010
  • Broome County Bar Association, Member

Past Employment Positions

  • Coughlin & Gerhart, Associate, 2009 - 2013
  • Reisch & Luftman, Associate, 1994 - 1995
  • Slevin & Hart PC, Associate, 1991 - 1992
  • Feder & Associates, Associate, 1989 - 1991
  • Feder & Associates, Law Clerk, 1987 - 1989

Pro Bono Activities

  • Board of Trustees for United Way of Tompkins County, Former Member


  • English (Primary)