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Pension Plan Investments 2021: Advanced Perspectives

Speaker(s): Alan S. Wilmit, Arthur H. Kohn, Beth J. Dickstein, Christina Y. Lee, David C. Olstein, Deva A. Kyle, Erin K. Cho, Howard Pianko, Ian L. Levin, James S. Frazier, Janet M. Lee, Kendra Kosko Isaacson, Linda J. Haynes, Melanie Franco Nussdorf, Michael B. Richman, Michelle C. Yau, Patricia Anne Kuhn, Patrick S. Menasco, Shannon Barrett, Steven W. Rabitz, Timothy D. Hauser
Recorded on: Nov. 16, 2021
PLI Program #: 306698

Deva Kyle joined Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP in 2022 as Of Counsel after practicing for 18 years in both private practice and for the federal government. At the firm, Ms. Kyle advises clients on a wide range of employee benefits, federal tax, and legislative matters.

Prior to joining Cohen, Weiss and Simon, Deva was Of Counsel at Bredhoff and Kaiser and before that she served as Tax Counsel on detail to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means where she advised the committee on tax policy and retirement security including recent multiemployer relief efforts and the Secure Act.

Deva began her career in 2004 with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation representing the agency as an attorney and Assistant Chief Counsel in large exposure litigation and Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Later she served as Staff Director in the Office of Policy and External Affairs at PBGC where she was principally responsible for leading the agency’s multiemployer pension policy efforts.

In 2015 and 2016, Deva worked at the Treasury Department where, with a team of Treasury leaders, she crafted Treasury’s Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (“MPRA”) program regulations and processes. Once the program was established, Deva worked closely with Special Master Ken Feinberg and oversaw the first team of analysts, actuaries, and attorneys for the MPRA program reviewing the most financially and actuarially complex applications for benefit suspension to date. In 2017, she returned to PBGC to serve as Acting Deputy Chief of Negotiations and Restructuring where she helped lead PBGC’s single and multiemployer insurance programs. There, she participated in single employer early warning program negotiations and oversaw multiemployer Alternative Withdrawal Liability Rule requests, benefit suspension applications, mergers, and partitions, among other PBGC concerns.

Deva received her B.A. in Sociology from Vassar College and her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. Deva is admitted in California and D.C.

Steven W. Rabitz is a Partner at Dechert LLP focusing on executive compensation matters for public and private companies and the fiduciary responsibility, prohibited transaction and funding rules of ERISA. He is regularly featured in Chambers USA for his work in employee benefits and executive compensation and in Best Lawyers for his ERISA-related practice. He is nationally recommended by The Legal 500 and was named a “Leading Lawyer” in 2017, in addition to being ranked in Super Lawyers.  Mr. Rabitz’s writing on current legal topics and issues has appeared in numerous publications, including, Tax Management Compensation Journal, Pension & Benefits Daily, Derivatives: Financial Products Report, The Hedge Fund Law Report, and he has been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Institutional Investor, Barron’s, Bloomberg, Hedge Fund Law Report, International Business Times and Law 360. In 2015, he received the Burton Award for excellence in legal writing.

Prior to private practice, Mr. Rabitz pioneered and led the ERISA, executive compensation and benefits legal function at Lehman Brothers and served in a similar capacity at Barclays Capital. He also worked as part of a dedicated team of ERISA and compensation lawyers at Goldman Sachs earlier in his career. Prior to joining Dechert, Mr. Rabitz was a partner at a national leading law firm.

Alan is the senior attorney responsible for executive compensation, employee benefits and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) matters. In addition to advising on the firm’s own employee benefits, Alan assists in structuring investments for ERISA plans and advises Goldman Sachs Asset Management in connection with the ERISA aspects of its responsibilities. He is a member of the Acquisition and Disposition Review Committee. Alan joined Goldman Sachs in 1999 and became a legal director in 2004. He was named managing director in 2006.

Prior to joining the firm, Alan was a partner in the ERISA Department of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, LLP. He was also an assistant general counsel at Salomon Brothers, Inc. and was an associate in the Employee Benefits group at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.

Alan is a graduate of Tufts University and Cornell Law School.

Arthur Kohn is General Counsel – ERISA, Compensation and Benefits at Citigroup.  Prior to joining Citigroup, Arthur was a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP. His practice focused on compensation and benefits matters, including executive compensation, pension compliance and investment, employment law and related matters.

He repeatedly has been recognized for his work on behalf of clients by the business and legal press, including Best Lawyers, which named him its 2014 New York Employee Benefits (ERISA) Lawyer of the Year. He has also been recognized for his work in employee benefits and executive compensation law by Chambers USA, The Legal 500, Super Lawyers of New York and others.

He is frequently invited to speak about executive compensation, taxation and corporate governance matters across the United States. Arthur is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law and a regular guest lecturer at Columbia Law School.

Arthur received a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was admitted into the Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education program, was appointed a Harlan Fiske Scholar and received Phi Beta Kappa honors.

Beth J. Dickstein is a partner in Sidley’s Chicago office and is co-leader of the firm’s global Employee Benefits practice area. Beth regularly advises pension plan investors, as well as investment managers, regarding legal issues relating to various investment products, including the product’s fee arrangements and related party transactions. This has involved significant analysis of the fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction provisions of ERISA. Beth focuses on assisting investment managers, insurance companies and other financial institutions with structuring different types of alternative investment vehicles to be offered to ERISA plans, including hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds and bank collective investment trusts. Beth has prepared ERISA compliance procedures for investment managers, has performed “mock” Department of Labor fiduciary audits and has trained investment managers and plan investment committees regarding their fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA. She has advised clients regarding the structuring of administrative and investment committees of pension, 401(k) and 403(b) plans and regularly assists pension investment staff and pension investment committees with legal review of proposed investments and the drafting and negotiation of investment management agreements, consulting agreements, recordkeeping agreements and other service provider contracts. In addition, Beth provides support to the firm’s litigators in ERISA fiduciary duty and 401(k) fee lawsuits.

Beth represents numerous companies in the establishment and administration of pension, profit sharing and 401(k) plans. She also advises clients with respect to multiemployer plan matters generally and in connection with plant shutdowns and audit requests. Her practice also focuses on employee benefit issues arising in connection with mergers, acquisitions and financings.

As a representative to the firm’s retirement plans committee, Beth is involved in the legal analysis relating to the evaluation and selection of investments made by the firm’s retirement plans committee. She is recognized as a leading lawyer in the 2010–2018 editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and is listed as “Lawyer of the Year" in The Best Lawyers in America 2014 for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law. She is also recommended in The Legal 500 US 2013–2017 for employee benefits and executive compensation. Beth is a past chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association and is co-author of the BNA Tax Management Portfolio titled “Qualified Plans – Investments.” She is active in the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association and is a representative to the American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits. In the state of Illinois, Beth became a Certified Public Accountant in 1985.

Christina is lead ERISA counsel for the institutional broker dealer and the asset management businesses of Morgan Stanley.  Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 2011, Ms. Lee was an attorney at Allen & Overy LLP, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Proskauer Rose LLP, representing clients in all aspects of employee benefits and executive compensation.  

Christina received her JD from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, where she was an editor of the Law Review and a Bachelor of Science, with distinction, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ms. Lee is admitted to practice in New York.

David C. Olstein is partner in the Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and ERISA Group at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.  His practice focuses on the fiduciary responsibility provisions of ERISA and the prohibited transaction excise tax provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. He has an extensive background advising financial institutions, plan sponsors, and investment committees on ERISA matters, including compliance with ERISA’s fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction rules in connection with the investment of pension plan assets.  He also advises high net worth individuals in connection with the investment of IRA assets.

David regularly advises fund sponsors on the application of ERISA’s “plan asset” rules as they relate to the establishment and operation of private investment funds. From representing issuers and underwriters in connection with marketing securities to investors, to advising plan sponsors and independent fiduciaries in connection with the selection of annuity providers, David offers substantial experience at the intersection of ERISA and fiduciary responsibility.

David is an active member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation and the New York City Bar Association’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee. He is also a contributing author to the BNA treatise ERISA Fiduciary Law, and has authored or co-authored articles that have been published in the Employee Relations Law Journal, Employee Benefit News and Thompson Reuters Practitioner Insights.

Erin K. Cho is a partner in the Employment & Benefits Group at Mayer Brown focusing on ERISA Title I fiduciary matters. Erin has extensive experience advising financial institutions, asset managers, insurance companies and other retirement plan service providers with respect to the many and varied services and financial products (including complex structured products and derivatives) they offer to U.S. pension plans. She counsels hedge funds and private equity clients on the consequences of accepting investments by benefit plan investors, as well as plan assets and prohibited transaction concerns arising in connection with venture capital investments and corporate transactions.

She counsels plan sponsors on all aspects of ERISA fiduciary compliance, including plan governance, plan expense issues, and the selection and monitoring of plan investment options. Erin also represents clients in connection with audits and investigations as well as advisory opinion and exemption requests before the Department of Labor. Erin regularly writes on pension investment matters for a variety of publications. She is a frequent speaker on ERISA matters and is the co-chair of the Practising Law Institute’s annual conference, “ERISA: The Evolving World.”

Erin received her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School and her B.A. Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude from Yale University.

Ian L. Levin is a partner in Schulte Roth & Zabel’s M&A and Securities Group. Ian’s practice covers a broad range of executive compensation and employee benefits matters, including the associated tax, securities, corporate, employment and labor issues. Ian’s practice routinely involves:

  • Structuring private equity and hedge funds and other investments in compliance with ERISA
  • Advising private and public companies, in particular private equity sponsors, regarding executive compensation and employee benefits issues arising in mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, joint ventures and other transactions
  • Representing executives and management teams in negotiating employment and incentive compensation, particularly in connection with corporate transactions
  • Advising clients as to the design and establishment of virtually all types of executive compensation, equity, deferred compensation and other benefit arrangements
  • Advising companies and their boards regarding governance and disclosure requirements
  • Representing lenders and borrowers in various corporate financing transactions

Ian has been recognized as a leading employee benefits attorney by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 US, New York Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers. Chambers USA describes Ian as “highly experienced in advising clients on the benefit and executive compensation issues associated with various business transactions” and noted that clients regard Ian as “very proactive” and “an excellent lawyer with strong technical knowledge.” The Legal 500 US has noted that he “operates at a very high level across many areas, but brings a particularly unique set of skills to ERISA Title I matters in his representation of private investment funds.”

Ian serves as a member on the Advisory Board and as chair of the Center for Transactional Law and Practice Advisory Board at the Emory University School of Law. He also serves as an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

James Frazier focuses his practice in the area of ERISA and employee benefits. A large part of his practice is devoted to advising clients with respect to the application of ERISA's fiduciary standards and prohibited transaction provisions to their activities in transactional and regulatory matters.

James regularly advises financial services firms with respect to the structuring of investment vehicles and other investment products, including complex structured products and derivatives, offered to employee benefit plans and entities deemed to hold the assets of such plans. He routinely advises financial services firms in connection with the provision of services, such as investment management and brokerage services, to such plans or entities. James also advises clients regarding issues that arise under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code in the context of corporate transactions. He also routinely represents clients before the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Recognized by Chambers USA as a leading lawyer, James was praised for his ERISA experience and clients noted that he "is thoughtful, has a great practical approach and is very helpful in giving us a sense of where we are in the pack." James has also been recognized in Best Lawyers in America as one of the nation's leading lawyers in ERISA law.

Prior to entering private practice, James was a Pension Law Specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor, where he spent extensive time working with the fiduciary provisions found in, and prohibited transaction exemptions issued under, Title I of ERISA.

James received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Arkansas School of Law, and an LL.M. in Taxation and Certificate in Employee Benefits Law, as well as an LL.M. in Labor Law, with distinction, from the Georgetown University Law Center. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina. He is admitted to practice in New York and North Carolina.

Janet  is Senior Legal Director and advises the firm on products and services to individual retirement accounts and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) plans. Janet also advises the firm on executive compensation and employee benefit matters. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 2006, Janet was an associate in the Benefits and Compensation group at Latham & Watkins LLP and an associate in the Executive Compensation group at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Janet is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School.

Kendra Kosko Isaacson serves as Senior Pensions Counsel to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, where she advises Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and other committee members on ERISA and all retirement-related issues. She is also a member of the Committee’s Oversight Team where she assists with nominations and financial conflicts of interest.  Kendra also advises Senator Murray on all tax-related matters.

Kendra received her B.A. in Government from Dartmouth College, a J.D., with honors, from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law, and an LL.M in Taxation with a certificate in Employee Benefits from the Georgetown University Law Center.  After law school, Kendra was an Associate with Slevin & Hart, P.C. and also with Venable LLP in Washington, DC. Before joining the HELP Committee, Kendra worked in the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor where she worked in the Office of Policy and Research. 

Kendra speaks frequently on retirement policy.

Melanie Nussdorf, a partner at Steptoe, advises some of the world's largest financial institutions on fiduciary issues, including prohibited transaction exemption questions under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, especially in connection with financial products and services offered by major banks, investment advisers, brokerage firms, and insurance companies. Repeatedly recognized by clients and peers in Chambers USA and Legal 500 as one of the nation’s leading lawyers in the employee benefits area, Melanie’s experience spans the entire range of employee benefits, from tax-based requirements for qualified pension plans, to fiduciary issues, welfare benefits, and plan termination. She has substantial experience with the exemption and advisory opinion process under ERISA and has worked extensively on legislative and regulatory issues related to ERISA. Her experience includes seven years in senior roles at the Department of Labor and at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Michael B. Richman is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice. His principal focus is on matters under the ERISA fiduciary responsibility rules. He advises plan sponsors on investment matters for defined benefit and defined contribution plans, and also counsels banks, investment advisers and broker-dealers on ERISA compliance for ERISA plan separately managed accounts, collective investment funds, private funds and other arrangements. In addition, he counsels clients on fiduciary governance of ERISA plans, prohibited transaction issues in proposed transactions and transactions under government investigation, and preparing requests to the U.S. Department of Labor for prohibited transaction exemptions and advisory opinions.  His practice also includes advising IRA custodians on permissible IRA investments and investment restrictions.

Prior to joining Morgan Lewis, Mr. Richman was counsel in the employee benefits and investment management groups at Reed Smith LLP.

Mr. Richman earned his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1988, where he was managing editor for the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. He earned his A.B., magna cum laude, in history from Princeton University in 1985.

Mr. Richman has authored or co-authored a number of articles on ERISA issues. In addition, he is the co-author of the book ERISA Class Exemptions and of chapters on the ERISA class exemptions and trustee responsibility in the book ERISA Fiduciary Law.

Mr. Richman is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Maryland and before the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Michelle C. Yau is the Chair of the ERISA/Employee Benefits practice group at Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll, PLLC.  Ms. Yau specializes in fiduciary breach cases involving complex financial transactions or products.  Ms. Yau has a passion for finance and its application to ERISA litigation.  She successfully represented a class of participants, in In re Beacon Assoc. Litig., 09 Civ. 0777 (S.D.N.Y.), which, along with other consolidated case, settled for $219 million, representing 70% of the Class members’ out-of-pocket losses.  Ms. Yau also represented ERISA participants in Thole v. U.S. Bank, which reached the United States Supreme Court.  She represents participants in BlackRock’s 401(k) Plan for ERISA violations of the Plan’s fiduciaries, by offering primarily BlackRock funds on the Plan’s fund menu.

Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Yau was in the Honors Program of the Department of Labor, where she was responsible for the enforcement and administration of a variety of labor statutes.  Before law school, Ms. Yau worked as a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Financial Institutions Group of the Investment Banking Division.  

Ms. Yau received a B.A. in Mathematics (with distinction, 1997) from the University of Virginia, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Mu Epsilon (mathematics honors).  Ms. Yau received her law degree from Harvard Law School in 2003, where she was awarded several public interest fellowships, including the Heyman Fellowship for academic excellence and a demonstrated commitment to federal public service. 

Patricia is a member of the bank’s Legal Department. She provides advice and guidance on ERISA, fiduciary and other employee benefit plan and retirement issues to the Global Wealth and Investment Management business.  Her responsibilities include supporting institutional and individual retirement programs and services and non-qualified deferred compensation and equity plans.

Prior to Bank of America, Ms. Kuhn was a Managing Director at BlackRock in Legal and Compliance and a counsel at Shearman & Sterling LLC in the Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits Group.  She advised clients on issues arising under the Title I and Title IV of ERISA and other employee benefit plan and employment issues.

Patricia received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York, College at Purchase in 1983, and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University, cum laude in 1989, and she was a member of law review.

Patrick Menasco is a nationally-recognized ERISA and public plan investment lawyer with 25 years of public and private sector experience.  He enjoys longstanding connections with regulators, a broad technical proficiency in ERISA and public plan regulation, and a gift for blending analysis with insight.  Patrick’s work focuses on investment funds (particularly real estate, transportation and stable value-related strategies), general asset management, bank/broker-dealer netting opinions, derivatives and other capital market transactions, prohibited transaction exemptions, government investigations, and adversarial proceedings.  His clients include major national and international financial institutions.

Patrick is also a frequent lecturer on employee benefit investment issues at the Practising Law Institute in New York and has served as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School for ten years. He is regularly recognized by Chambers USA and The Legal 500 lists of top lawyers for employee benefits and executive compensation.

Practice Area:

Employee Retirement and Health Benefits

Plan Governance

Fiduciary Advisory Services

Executive Compensation

International Benefits

Howard Pianko is the head of Seyfarth Shaw’s New York benefits practice. During his more than thirty-five years of experience in employee benefits law and executive compensation, he has counseled both domestic and international clients on matters running the full benefits gamut. His current practice focuses extensively on fiduciary and plan governance matters, executive compensation (including both domestic and cross-border equity and incentive plans) as well as benefit and employment considerations in M&A transactions, including post-transaction implementation and restructuring.

He is a Charter Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and a founding member of the International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association. He has been recognized for his professional expertise by, among others, Chambers, Legal 500 and Best Lawyers in America and also designated as a BTI Client Service All-Star. He originated and co-chairs two PLI programs involving ERISA investment considerations and another focused on the application of ERISA to the health plan space.

Shannon Barrett concentrates his practice on ERISA-related litigation and on providing advice relating to Title I of ERISA. He has been involved in litigating a broad range of ERISA matters at both the trial and appellate levels, with a particular focus on fiduciary issues. In addition to his litigation practice, Shannon has assisted clients in responding to regulatory investigations and has counseled clients, including financial institutions and plan sponsors, on ERISA issues such as fiduciary structure, fee disclosure, and compliance with ERISA’s prohibited transaction provisions. Shannon also has advised independent fiduciaries in their representation of employee benefit plans’ rights in connection with ERISA and securities settlements.

Shannon is a frequent thought leader on ERISA-related topics and serves as the co-editor of the ERISA Litigation Reporter. He is recognized by Chambers USA and Legal 500 in the ERISA Litigation (Nationwide) category.

Timothy D. Hauser is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Operations of the Employee Benefits Security Administration and as such is the chief operating officer of the Agency. His responsibilities include overseeing EBSA's regulatory, enforcement and reporting activities.

Mr. Hauser joined the Department of Labor in 1991 as a trial attorney for the Plan Benefits Security Division (PBSD), where he represented the Department in federal district court and appellate litigation. From November 2000 until November 2013, Mr. Hauser was the Associate Solicitor of the Division. As the head of PBSD, he was responsible for all of the Department's legal work under ERISA.

Before joining the Department of Labor, Mr. Hauser worked as a trial attorney for six years at Legal Aid of Western Missouri. As a Legal Aid attorney, he represented indigent clients in civil litigation in ten rural counties in Missouri.

Mr. Hauser graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985. He is also a graduate of the University of Illinois.

Employers who are responsible for operating large employee benefit plans (including investing the assets of those plans) are subject to constantly evolving, complex rules. Linda counsels clients on fiduciary and governance matters raised by operating such plans, including the formation and operation of plan fiduciary committees with respect to such plans, and assisting fiduciaries of such plans in complying with ERISA and effectively managing risk. She advises clients on the complex and ever-evolving ERISA fiduciary matters that are unfolding and impacting plan fiduciaries.

Linda counsels mid-size to Fortune 500 clients in all elements of employee benefit plans and executive compensation. She regularly counsels public and private clients in connection with the design, development, and ongoing compliance of their employee benefit programs, including qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, health plans, cafeteria plans, and other types of welfare plans.

She has substantial experience in advising employee benefit plan fiduciaries regarding their duties and responsibilities. Linda frequently conducts training for fiduciary committees, including training regarding general fiduciary duties under ERISA, prohibited transactions, and current developments. Linda regularly advises clients regarding fiduciary issues and obligations raised by proposed plan investments. In addition, she counsels clients regarding employee benefit plan investment policies, negotiates investment management agreements, and reviews alternative investment vehicles. Linda works closely with the firm's Employee Benefits Litigation group in cases involving complex ERISA issues, including fiduciary issues and hybrid defined benefit plan issues.

Linda has significant experience in advising clients concerning their defined benefit pension plans, including cash balance and pension equity plans. Linda's practice also includes advising clients on employee benefits and executive compensation issues raised in mergers, acquisitions, and dispositions.

Linda began her practice in employee benefits law as an employee benefit paralegal more than 30 years ago. Counseling clients in this area for that long has given her a detailed understanding of the multitude of real-world problems employer encounter daily when operating employee benefit plans, and how to craft practical solutions that satisfy the business needs of her clients.

At Seyfarth, Linda enjoys having the opportunity to work with the large group of attorneys who practice exclusively in employee benefits—and who enjoy it as much as she does.