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The Washington DC-based ERISA team at Covington & Burling LLP regularly represents clients in Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits and investigations, as well as advising on plan structures and management. Robert Newman led the advice on the termination of 21st Century Fox’s pension plan and also advised the NFL with regards to retirement plans and healthcare reform. Practice head Richard Shea served as lead domestic and global employee benefits counsel to Dow and Solenis. Other notable clients include ERIC, a leading trade association, which Michael Francese represented in connection with the DOL’s new fiduciary rule. Seth Safra moved to Proskauer Rose LLP. Since publication Marianna Dyson has joined from Miller & Chevalier Chartered as of counsel.

The benefits practice at specialist firm Groom Law Group is ‘extremely responsive, knowledgeable in terms the legal and industry sides, and overall top notch’, and advises clients on all aspects of health and retirement plans. ‘Outstanding lawyer’ Jennifer Eller is an expert in fiduciary regulations and ‘strikes the balance between collaborative and assertive’; she represents numerous clients with regard to the DOL’s fiduciary ruling alongside Jon Breyfogle and new partner Erin Cho. Breyfogle also handled healthcare reform work for health insurance suppliers, Fortune 100 companies, and health plan administrators, and worked on mental health parity compliance. Other key contacts include Daniel Hogans, Gary Ford, Elizabeth Dold and Lars Golumbic. The team is based in Washington DC.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP divides its benefits practice into seven task forces: fiduciary regulation, retirement plans, executive compensation, health plans, fringe benefits and payroll tax, multi-employer plans, and ESOPs. Led by Steven Spencer and Craig Bitman from the Philadelphia and New York offices respectively, the team assists clients such as Honeywell with their day-to-day benefits matters, including 401(k) and welfare plan issues through Andy Anderson in Chicago and Amy Pocino Kelly in Philadelphia. Other notable clients include DHL, Toyota and UBS. Randall McGeorge was promoted to partner in the Pittsburgh office in October 2016.

Recently joined by Seth Safra from Covington & Burling LLP, the nationwide employee benefits practice at Proskauer Rose LLP assists clients with single- and multi-employer plans, ERISA compliance, and fiduciary obligations. In Washington DC, Paul Hamburger advised the Met, Bass Pro Shops and SCANA on healthcare reform and retirement plan administration and design. From the New York office, Andrea Rattner provides ongoing benefits advice to clients such as Foot Locker, Ascena, and Celgene. Neal Schelberg and Steven Weinstein designed the implementation of a new benefits plan and amended existing retirement arrangements for the NHL following its expansion into Las Vegas. Ira Golub, Rory Albert and Robert Projansky are also key contacts. Attorneys are based in New York except where indicated otherwise.

Paul Ondrasik, Melanie Nussdorf and Gwendolyn Renigar lead Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s employee benefits and executive compensation team from Washington DC. The team has been advising clients on the change in fiduciary regulations, and Eric Serron assists with the administration and management of 401(k) and cash balance plans for large financial institutions. The firm also assists several healthcare clients with regard to DOL investigations, and Patrick Menasco was part of the team acting for Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas, and Deutsche Bank in their respective applications for QPAM tax exemption under ERISA.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP provides ‘expert knowledge on how to structure a benefits offering’ and advises clients on the drafting and implementation of group health plans as a result of healthcare reform, as well as on retirement plan management and ERISA compliance, and also represents companies in DOL audits. Its clients include the likes of Google, Xilinx and Republic Services. The global benefits and compensation practice is led by Leslie Klein, who splits his time between Phoenix and Chicago, and Jeffrey Mamorsky in New York. Magan Ray who also sits in Phoenix ‘provides high-quality guidance with practical suggestions and options’; Ian Herbert and Renée O’Rourke are based in Washington DC and Denver respectively and are also key contacts.

Trusted Advisor - with Finnegan

IP specialist Finnegan detail how their collaborative approach makes for a unique culture which is designed to allow them to work with clients in a way which is cognizant of the challenges facing all companies today.

Washington DC’s Miller & Chevalier Chartered is especially strong in ACA and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance matters. Health insurance carriers engage the firm to work with their HR, tax and marketing departments to ensure they provide legally compliant products to clients and to their own employees. The team includes Elizabeth Drake, who handles pension plan de-risking and 401(k) design matters. Anthony Shelley leads the ERISA litigation department and is also a key contact. . Since publication, Marianna Dyson has joined Covington & Burling LLP as of counsel.

Spearheaded by Susan Serota from the New York office, the employee benefits practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP advises clients on all issues related to benefits and executive compensation. The San Diego-based Marcus Wu and Christine Richardson, who is based in San Francisco, represent MUFG and Live Nation respectively in benefit plan restructuring and issues pertaining to cross-border integration proceedings. Serota’s clients include BNY Mellon, while New York’s Peter Hunt assists ClearWater with plan amendments, including negotiating a new record keeper for its 401(k) and deferred compensation plans.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s expertise extends to healthcare, ACA reform, and the amending, drafting and termination of retirement and benefit plans. The practice is advising Nike regarding a major redesign of its employee benefits programs through the Chicago-based Adam Greetis, while Randell Montellaro assists Northwell Health with its tax-qualified retirement plans, cash balance plans, and 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans from the New York office. On the ACA side, Howard Pianko, who is also based in New York, represents a major publicly traded health company with regard to healthcare reforms. Robert Flanagan heads the team from Chicago and is handling Northrop Grumman’s transition of service providers.

Winston & Strawn LLP acts as counsel on a variety of issues related to the ACA, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans compliance under ERISA, and fiduciary oversight. From Chicago, practice head Michael Falk provides day-to-day advice to clients such as Ventas, Lear, and Société Générale regarding their employee health and retirement plans, while new partner Steve Flores advised on compliance with the IRC and the fiduciary requirements of ERISA. Erik Lundgren departed for Jones Day and Erin Kartheiser became a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

Joanne Youn and Richard Skillman handle Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered’s employee benefits work. Skillman advises the Kaiser Foundation on its 403(b) and retiree medical plans alongside Ronald Cluett, who also assisted Skillman in his work for VALIC. Youn assists MBN with its payroll tax, and advises Teekay on ongoing cross-border issues related to its benefits plans. The team also represents the World Bank and the IMF in connection with their defined benefit plans and executive compensation agreements. Both partners are based in Washington DC.

Dentons advises on the administration and design of benefit plans and represents clients in IRS and DOL audits and investigations. The team, which is led by Martin Moderson in Kansas City, recently assisted a client with the structuring of a profit-sharing plan for a future ESOP scheme, and advised a government-owned healthcare system on the termination of its defined benefit plan. Washington DC-based Michael Maryn provides ongoing advice to McDonald’s regarding benefits issues - most recently on fiduciary compliance.

Goodwin’s employee benefits attorneys advise on the full range of ERISA and regulatory matters. The team is led from Boston by Scott Webster, who advised John Hancock and Manulife on the integration of the retirement plan business from New York Life. John Cleary advised State Street on updating benefit wrap agreements with its stable clients and on several DOL audits regarding compliance issues. Key contacts also include Natascha George, who provides ongoing employee benefits advice to Partners Healthcare.

The practice at Jackson Lewis P.C. handles fiduciary regulations, plan administration, multi-employer plan withdrawal liability and virtually all other aspects of employee benefits work. St Louis-based of counsel Stephanie Zorn advised a large southern hospital on the termination of its defined benefits plan, and for four months served as in-house counsel for a global insurance and financial services company in connection with health and retirement plan issues. In Dallas, of counsel Raymond Turner represented a healthcare company in an IRS audit revolving around the client’s ‘last day’ allocation requirements. The practice is led by Joy Napier-Joyce from Baltimore.

The ‘excellentK&L Gates’ practice is spread across the country and acts for clients across the full spectrum of employee benefit matters. Based in Pittsburgh, Michael Hart impresses clients by being ‘extremely responsible and an expert in his field’; he recently handled a pension de-risking transaction for PPG alongside Charles Smith. The Seattle-based Karrie Diaz advised SSL and Zulily on their benefit programs - specifically their 401(k), welfare and health plans - and provides them with ongoing advice on fiduciary obligations. James Earle and Smith lead the team from Charlotte and Pittsburgh respectively.

Mayer Brown’s team assists clients with benefits issues such as ESOPs, cross-border tax qualifications and pension plan de-risking under the leadership of Maureen Gorman in Palo Alto. In Chicago, Lennine Occhino and James Williams advised a global financial institution on the structuring of an integrated 401(k) platform, including trustees, record keeping, distribution and investment management. The firm also represents the CIBC, and handles the development of ERISA compliance policies along with day-to-day advice on benefit issues for a large hedge fund. Chicago-based Debra Hoffman is also a key contact.

Thompson Hine LLP is ‘fast and accurate’ and ‘excellent to do business with’, according to clients. Kim Wilcoxon is ‘by far the best ERISA attorney’ that one client has worked with, and leads the advice on Cardinal Health and Fifth Third’s 401(k) and group health plan alongside practice head Laura Ryan, who is also recommended by clients; they are both based in Cincinnati. In the Cleveland office, Julia Love and Karen Youngstrom advise AkzoNobel, based in the Netherlands, on 409A and ACA compliance. Other notable clients include Credit Suisse, Eaton, and NCR.

Kelly Starr and Thomas Desmond lead the employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Vedder Price in Chicago. ArcelorMittal and Follett engaged the firm to advise on pension, 401(k), medical and welfare plans. Thomas Hancuch handles pension de-risking transactions and benefit plan amendments, and provides ongoing advice to clients regarding ACA compliance and IRS reporting. Other notable clients include Amsted, Central Steel & Wire, and MB Financial.

Michael Katz leads the four-partner employee benefits and executive compensation team at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. Following the DOL’s redefinition of fiduciary duty, Peter Haller is advising Credit Suisse and other financial services clients on reviewing the retirement plan products they offer investors. The firm is also representing Aberdeen Asset Management in ERISA compliance issues associated with the management of large separate account mandates, private funds and bank collective trusts. Attorneys are based in New York.

Arent Fox LLP’s employee benefits practice is led by Quana Jew and specializes in amending and managing health and retirement plans. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, Bill Charyk assists Catholic Charities and other non profit organizations in connection with potential healthcare plan amendments; the firm’s work for watchdog AARP revolves around keeping its internal benefits plan up to date. High-end fashion clients such as Diane von Furstenberg and Lacoste retain the practice to advise on their benefits packages. The firm also manages plans for other law firms and individual partners.

Georgeanne Peters and Raymond Malone lead the employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Baker & Hostetler LLP and provide advice relating to all types of retirement, health, welfare and savings plans. New client Red Lobster benefited from Susan Lubow’s advice on the establishment of new retirement and welfare plans following its spin-off from Darden, while John McGowan and John Boyd advised the Kaiser Foundation on the restructuring of its individual benefit distribution channels to comply with the ACA. The practice is spread across the firm’s Cleveland and Columbus offices.

The quality of service at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. is ‘very high’ and the practice was strengthened by the arrival of Christopher McMican from Miller Canfield P.L.C. in the Detroit office and Sharon Lippett from Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York. Practice head Michelle Capezza is also based in New York and handled several pension de-risking matters, including advising EmblemHealth on a lump-sum cash-out window to terminated and deferred vested employees. The firm’s New York and New Jersey offices cooperated to update BlackRock’s welfare plans to reflect recent regulation changes. Other clients include Kindred, Ipsen and Sumitomo.

The employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP has been advising clients on the DOL’s changes to the fiduciary rule. Practice head Mark Smith has assisted over 60 financial services entities with regard to this landmark change alongside Vanessa Scott. Adam Cohen is also a key contact and handles a wide range of benefits issues, including lump-sum windows and welfare plans. The team is based in Washington DC.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s benefits practice provides fiduciary compliance advice to clients following the DOL’s landmark definition ruling, and assists plan sponsors with plan designs. Eugene Scalia filed a comment letter on behalf of Primerica and is challenging the fiduciary rule change for several trade associations, including SIFMA and the Chamber of Commerce. Practice co-head Michael Collins and William Kilberg represented the NFLPA in negotiations with the NFL over benefits matters, specifically benefits provided for cognitive disabilities. The team is based in Washington DC.

Washington DC-based boutique firm Ivins, Phillips & Barker recently added the former chief of staff of Congress’s joint taxation committee Harry Gutman to its ranks; Gutman now heads the federal tax policy group as of counsel. The practice handles health plan drafting and ERISA compliance, and represents clients in DOL and IRS audits. Notable clients include Bayer, GE, IBM and Saudi Aramco. Rosina Barker joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Jenner & Block LLP’s employee benefits practice represents clients such as General Dynamics, Hertz and Nissan and is headed by the Chicago-based Matthew Renaud. Recent highlights include Raymond Sinnappan and Renaud’s work on an $800m pension de-risking transaction, and the team’s advice to several clients on maintaining, amending and managing defined benefit plans, as well as on ERISA compliance and ACA-related reform. Tony Ling is also a key contact and Sarah Haddy recently made partner.

The Boston-based team at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. represents domestic and global clients on welfare and retirement plans, and pension trusts. Key contacts include Alden Bianchi, who specializes in ACA and ERISA fiduciary compliance issues and advises Marsh McLennan on all its retirement and welfare plans; and of counsel Patricia Moran, who handles all benefits issues for TransPerfect and American Well. Washington DC-based employment litigator David Barmak leads the practice with Bianchi.

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP’s practice is jointly led by retirement plan and ACA specialist Patricia Cain, and Jeffrey Bakker, who has experience in a wide array of labor and employment matters, including defined benefits plans and fiduciary responsibilities. In recent highlights, the team assisted a client with obtaining a determination letter from the IRS on its retirement plan, and represented a capital management client regarding the retention of a new plan adviser and preparation of a new document and summary plan description. A major accounting company engaged the group to advise on its non-qualified retirement plan for partners, including deferred compensation rules under section 409a of the Internal Revenue Code.

Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren SC has ‘top talent and always brings the right team member for the situation at hand’ and practice head Steven Huff is praised as being ‘a great listener, team-oriented and client-focused’. The practice acts as fiduciary counsel to Schreiber Foods, which administers three defined benefit plans, two ESOPs and a 401(k) plan. Clients such as MSA and Suburban Electrical Engineers and Contractors engaged the firm to advise on their ESOPs and the benefit implications of their shifts from C corporation to S corporation status. Huff is based in Milwaukee.

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP serves as outside counsel to an impressive roster of clients in the financial services sector regarding their benefits-related issues, including how to plan and manage their public and private US retirement assets. The team was engaged by over 17 financial services companies to advise on the landmark proposed changes to the term ‘fiduciary’ by the DOL; practice head Steven Rabitz provided such advice to SIFMA, for example. Marissa Holob handles all aspects of Emblem Health’s qualified and non-qualified plans. Of counsel Bruce Gallant is also a key contact. Named attorneys are based in New York.

Clients find David Guadagnolitop notch and always easy to work with’ and ‘can’t really say enough good things about’ the team at Sullivan & Worcester LLP, which Guadagnoli leads. The team works closely with the firm’s adjacent practices and advises on the full spectrum of employee benefits matters. Amy Sheridan is recognized for her expertise in compliance issues under IRS sections 409A and 457A, as well as healthcare law reforms. The practice is based in Boston.

Thompson & Knight LLP provides ‘excellent services, with specialist knowledge of issues in the oil and gas industry’; clients for benefits advice include the likes of Nexen, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and BNSF. Dallas-based Sharon Fountain works with Neely Munnerlyn and Russell Gully to advise Mary Kay, Interstate Batteries and USA Compression on all areas of employee benefits.

Venable LLP’s benefits practice advises on healthcare reform, HIPAA compliance and retirement plans, and is led by Thora Johnson in Baltimore. In Washington DC, Kenneth Hoffman assists clients with PBM reporting and the design of their health plans; and Baltimore-based Harry Atlas handles 401(k) plan design and multi-employer pension funding liabilities.

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