May 30, 2019

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group

The Employee Plans & Executive Compensation Group is comprised of 249 attorneys with an interest in or focus on employee benefits, ERISA and executive compensation issues. We have six substantive committees: Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration, and Litigation; Welfare Benefit Plans; Plan Transactions and Terminations; Qualified Plans; Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation; and IRAs and Plan Distributions.

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group
Group Co-Chairs: John Paliga and Karen Suhre
Group Co-Vice Chairs: Elizabeth Leight and Lori Oliphant

The Employee Plans & Executive Compensation Group is comprised of 249 attorneys with an interest in or focus on employee benefits, ERISA and executive compensation issues.  We have six substantive committees: Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration, and Litigation; Welfare Benefit Plans; Plan Transactions and Terminations; Qualified Plans; Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation; and IRAs and Plan Distributions. 

Our group hosts six free group calls per year, with each committee hosting an informal presentation on current developments.  In November of 2018, the Plan Transactions and Terminations Committee, led by Harold Ashner and Damarr Butler, gave a comprehensive update on PBGC activity and recent case law.  In January of 2019, the Qualified Plans Committee reviewed current developments.        In March of 2019, the Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Committee, led by Doreen Lilienfeld and Victoria Zerjav, presented a program covering new IRC 83(i), IRC 162(m) issues, non-competes and other current developments.  In April of 2019, the Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration, and Litigation Committee, led by April Goff & Peter Kelly, presented on current ERISA fiduciary topics.  We are looking forward to our next group call on May 31, 2019 with a discussion on current developments led by the IRAs & Plan Distributions Committee, and a program focusing on COBRA on June 28, 2019, led by the Welfare Benefit Plans Committee.

At the 2018 Joint Fall CLE Meeting with the Section of Taxation in Atlanta, Georgia, Russell Gully and Harold Ashner from our group presented with their Tax Section counterpart subcommittees.  At the recent Spring CLE Meeting in Boston, Karen Suhre, John Paliga, Jose Jara and Krisa Benskin presented on “Everything We Wish Law Firms Knew about their Own Benefit Plans.”

Members of our group have authored several eReport articles recently.  In May of 2018, Krisa Benskin wrote “Fiduciary Rule Vacated: Transition Rule Extended.”  The Winter, 2019 Edition includes three articles from members of our group:  “Proposed Regulations Liberalize Requirements for 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Hardship Distributions” by Russell G. Gully; “Annual Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Updates” by Lany L. Villalobos; and “ERISA: Thou Shall Not Pay Excessive Fees!”  By José M. Jara.  April Goff serves as an editor of the eReport.  In Probate & Property, May/June 2018 Edition, Tara Silver-Malyska wrote “Health Care Reform and Expatriate Health Benefits.”  The IRAs and Plan Distributions Committee (Russell Gully, Marc Purintin, David Valente & Krisa Benskin) have prepared a comprehensively updated set of FAQs on “Planning With Retirement Benefits” to replace the content currently on the RPTE webpage.

          Our group is part of the Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB) which also includes the ABA Tax, Labor, Business, Health and TIPS Sections.  Several group members participated in and presented at JCEB meetings with government representatives at the Annual Government Invitational in Baltimore in March of this year.  Elizabeth Ysla Leight facilitated the JCEB Technical Agency Meetings that included involvement by the various ABA Sections with several government agencies in Washington D.C. this May, and several other group members had the opportunity to attend those meetings.  The JCEB also presents many CLE Programs that members of our Group have been involved in. Linda Mendel co-chaired the JCEB Health & Welfare Plans National Institute in October of 2018.  Peter Kelly co-chaired the JCEB Fiduciary Institute on April 4, 2019 in Washington, D.C.; Frank Palmieri and David Cohen moderated panels on that program.  Several group members, including Courtney Vomund and Tara Silver-Malyska, have organized and presented JCEB eCLE programs as well.  Ideas for new CLE programs are always welcome!

Several members of our group are fellows of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, which is also part of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits.  John Paliga co-chaired the 2019 Ellen A. (Nell) Hennessy Employee Benefits Moot Court competition sponsored by the College, which was held on February 23, 2019 at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.  Several of our members participated in the competition as judges, and Damarr Butler coached the Georgetown team, which won best brief and best oralist.

We encourage anyone with an interest in employee benefits or executive compensation issues to dial in for our upcoming calls on May 31 and June 28.  All are welcome to sign up for our group on the ABA Connect website.  Please reach out to group chairs John Paliga or Karen Suhre if you are interested in getting involved in any of our activities or if you have ideas for new programs, articles or activities.