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Pension Plan Investments 2016: Current Perspectives


Speaker(s): Alan S. Wilmit, Andrew L. Oringer, David M. Cohen, Debbie Packer, Erin K. Cho, Erin Rose Miner, Howard Pianko, James S. Frazier, Jeanie Cogill, Karen L. Handorf, Liza LeAndre, Michael Auerbach , Michele M. Weldon, Patricia Anne Kuhn, Patrick S. Menasco, Peter E. Haller, Shannon Barrett, Steven W. Rabitz
Recorded on: Mar. 30, 2016
PLI Program #: 149891

Andrew L. Oringer is a partner and the co-chair of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group at Dechert LLP.  He is the co-chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association’s Business Section, the Emerging Issues Coordinator of the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation, a former co-chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Tax Section of the New York State Bar Association and chair of the NYSBA’s Committee on Attorney Professionalism.  Mr. Oringer is a charter member of the Practical Law Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Advisory Board and was a long-standing member of the Advisory Board for the Bloomberg BNA Benefits Resource Practice Center and for the Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, a Senior Fellow from Practice for the Regulatory Compliance Association and an adjunct professor at the Maurice A. Deane Law School at Hofstra University.  He is co-editor of a leading treatise on ERISA fiduciary law and has authored a chapter in a leading treatise on the taxation of nonqualified deferred compensation.  Mr. Oringer is highly rated by a number of key ranking organizations, is included in a widely disseminated list of the Top 100 lawyers in New York City across all practice areas and is a member of The Legal 500 Hall of Fame.


David M. Cohen focuses his practice on matters related to fiduciary responsibility, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and qualified plans.

Prior to joining SRZ, David held positions in both the private sector (as vice president and assistant general counsel of a major investment firm) and government service (with the Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Divisions of Regulatory Coordination and Exemptions). He speaks and writes widely on ERISA and benefit fund-related issues, including authoring ERISA compliance guides for broker-dealers for Practising Law Institute and presenting on “Handling ERISA Issues When Managing a Plan Asset Look-Through Fund” for a Financial Research Associates Hedge Fund Tax, Accounting and Administration Master Class and on “Fund Formation Issues,” “Current Topics in Private Equity and Alternative Investments” and “Current Fiduciary Issues” for recent Practising Law Institute Pension Plan Investments and ERISA Plans in the Financial Markets conferences. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was selected for inclusion in New York Super Lawyers, a listing of outstanding attorneys in the New York metro-area, Chambers USA and The Best Lawyers in America. David is a 1981 graduate of The George Washington University Law School and a 1978 graduate of Columbia University.


Erin K. Cho is a partner in the Retirement Services and Employers Practice Groups at Groom Law Group. Ms. Cho advises clients on matters involving ERISA’s fiduciary and conflict of interest rules. She advises asset managers, broker-dealers and investment bankers 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. Ms. Cho also represents clients in connection with audits and investigations as well as advisory opinion and exemption requests before the Department of Labor.

Ms. Cho regularly speaks on pension investment matters, including as a co-chair of the Practicing Law Institute’s annual conference, “ERISA: The Evolving World”.  Ms. Cho received her B.A. with distinction in History from Yale University where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and her J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School.


Erin Rose Miner is Director at Credit Suisse in New York heading the US regulatory compensation group as well as providing Executive Compensation coverage in the Americas.  Ms. Miner ensures the bank’s compensation plans and programs comply with US regulatory expectations as well as manages the execution of the compensation plans for employees based in the Americas. Ms. Miner received her undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Maryland, College Park and received her law degree from 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 was also recognized in the 2016 and 2017 editions of The 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.


Jeanie Cogill practices in the executive compensation, pension plan investments, and employee benefits areas of law. She advises public and private companies on all aspects of executive compensation arrangements, including equity incentive programs, golden parachute arrangements, performance incentive arrangements, severance programs, and nonqualified deferred compensation plans.

Jeanie also regularly advises public and private companies and private equity clients in connection with executive compensation and employee benefits issues arising in the context of mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, restructurings, and similar corporate transactions. She advises banks, broker-dealers, and other financial services clients on the fiduciary responsibility provisions of ERISA, including considerations associated with the structuring, developing, and offering of financial products and services to ERISA plans. In addition, she represents investment managers, hedge funds and private equity funds, and their principals in connection with fund structuring for ERISA and operational compliance with ERISA, providing counsel on fiduciary responsibility, prohibited transaction, VCOC, REOC, and other plan assets issues. 

Jeanie helps employers, management, and plan fiduciary committees, design and administer tax-qualified pension plans, health and other welfare plans, and counsels them on their fiduciary compliance responsibilities and the handling of claims and litigation.

Jeanie is a chapter author of the Section 409A Handbook (BNA Books 2010).


Karen L. Handorf is a Partner at Cohen Milstein and Chair of the firm’s Employee Benefits (ERISA) Practice Group. She joined the firm in 2007 following a distinguished career in government service litigating ERISA cases in federal and district courts. In her role as head of the Employee Benefits Practice, Ms. Handorf represents the interests of employees, retirees, plan participants and beneficiaries in ERISA cases in the district courts and on appeal.

Ms. Handorf is involved in litigation and appeals involving a broad range of employee benefits issues. She currently leads a team of litigators in a series of lawsuits alleging that health care systems wrongfully claim their pension benefit plans are exempt from ERISA’s protection because they are church plans.  Ms. Handorf is also litigating issues involving the selection of proprietary funds by 401(k) plans sponsored by financial institutions and imprudent and non-diversified investments by defined benefit plans.  She also represents Oregon officials in a lawsuit alleging that a provision of the state’s OregonSaves retirement program for private-sector employees is preempted by ERISA.

Prior to joining Cohen Milstein, Ms. Handorf was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), where she litigated ERISA cases in federal and district courts for 25 years. While at the DOL, she played a major role in formulating the Government’s position on ERISA issues expressed in amicus briefs filed by the Solicitor General in the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Handorf is a recipient of the Department of Labor Distinguished Career Service Award and received Exceptional Achievement Awards for her work on ERISA 401(k) plan remedies, the amicus brief in the Enron litigation, retiree health care, the amicus program in general, the appellate brief in the Department’s Tower litigation, termination annuities litigation and multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWAs) litigation.

Ms. Handorf has been recognized for her expertise by her colleagues in the ERISA bar, who named her a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. She is a frequent speaker on ERISA issues for the ABA, various Bar associations and at private seminars. She serves as plaintiffs' co-chair of preemption subcommittee of the Employee Benefits Committee of the ABA's Labor Section. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, she was named to the Best Lawyers in America.

Ms. Handorf attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where she received a B.S. in Speech and History, and earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.


Liza LeAndre is the Vice President, Compensation & Benefits Tax Counsel at Johnson & Johnson where she advises on tax and legal issues relating to Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide compensation and employee benefit programs.  Ms. LeAndre advises on cross-border compensation and benefits arrangements, including globally-aligned compensation, bonus, executive and equity plan offerings.  She also advises on compensation and benefits issues relating to acquisitions, joint ventures, divestitures and restructurings.

Prior to Johnson & Johnson, Ms. LeAndre was Chief Benefits Counsel at the Colgate-Palmolive Company where she advised on the company’s global retirement, welfare benefit and compensation programs as well as its executive and stock-based incentive compensation benefits.  She also advised on plan asset management and plan governance.  Prior to Colgate, Ms. LeAndre served as Corporate Counsel for Lucent Technologies where she provided legal advice in compensation and benefits areas including retirement plans, in-house asset management, executive compensation, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, stock-based compensation, welfare plans and collective bargaining.

Ms. LeAndre was also a Legal Consultant at Hewitt Associates and advised its actuarial, executive compensation, pension, defined contribution, total benefits administration, merger and acquisition and executive compensation practice groups.   She began her career at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton where she advised in areas including plan asset investment, executive compensation and merger and acquisitions.

Ms. LeAndre received her A.B. from Princeton University and her J.D. from the Harvard Law School.


Michele Weldon is a partner in the Financial Services industry practice group of the Assurance practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. She is also the Employee Benefit Plan Practice Leader for PwC. She has specialized in employee benefit plan audits since 1990 in addition to performing commingled fund audits. Michele performs employee benefit plan audits for more than 50 Boston office clients each year. She assists PwC's National office in developing employee benefit plan practice aids and in resolving auditing, accounting and reporting issues. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on employee benefit plans. She also assists in developing and teaching in-house training sessions on the industry. She is a member of the AICPA’s Employee Benefit Plans Expert Panel and the Audit Guide Revisions Task Force and is the current chair for the ACPA Audit, Accounting, and Regulatory Update Conference Committee.

She is a former member of the Department of Labor’s Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Plans. She is a member of 100 Women in Hedge Funds. Michele received an M.B.A from Babson College and a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


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.


Peter E. Haller is a partner in the Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits Department and practice leader for ERISA fiduciary issues.

Mr. Haller advises clients on their employee benefit plans and programs, with an emphasis on the fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction rules under ERISA, including the DOL guidance and court decisions arising out of the Fiduciary Rule and related exemptions.  He has significant experience with ERISA issues raised by hedge funds, private equity funds and financial institutions and their broker-dealer, asset management and private bank affiliates.  Mr. Haller represents clients with their prohibited transaction exemption requests before the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration. He also advises on ERISA and other employee benefits matters in connection with corporate transactions involving asset management and financial services firms.

Mr. Haller chairs the New York City Bar Association subcommittee on ERISA Fiduciary Duties, Private Equity and Plan Investments.  Mr. Haller also serves as an adjunct professor and teaches a class with Barry Barbash at Georgetown University Law Center and Howard University Law School on ERISA Fiduciary Duties and the Regulation of Private Funds.  He is also a frequent speaker and lecturer on a wide variety of employee benefits and ERISA related topics.

Prior to returning to Willkie in 2015, Mr. Haller was counsel for Credit Suisse in New York, where he served as the global head of the ERISA and Executive Compensation practices, and head of the U.S. Bank Regulatory practice.  In this role, he advised Credit Suisse with the development and offering of complex financial products in their investment banking and asset management divisions.  Mr. Haller is also a Certified Public Accountant.         

Mr. Haller received a JD from Boston College Law School in 1993 and a BS in accountancy (cum laude) from Bentley College in 1988, where he received the Falcon Society Award for academic achievement.           


Practice Area:

Employee Benefits

Plan Governance

Fiduciary Advisory Services

Executive Compensation

International Benefits

Howard Pianko is the head of Seyfarth Shaw’s New York benefits practice and the national chair of its Fiduciary Advisory Services practice group. 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 co-chairs the basic ERISA fiduciary program as well as the more advanced PLI Pension Investment Program intended for more advanced practitioners in this area.


Shannon Barrett is a partner in O’Melveny’s Washington, DC office.  He 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.


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.


As the Chief, Division of Accounting Services, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Mr. Auerbach's responsibilities include providing ERISA related accounting and auditing technical expertise within the Employee Benefits Security Administration. He is also the liaison with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and other professional organizations.

Mr. Auerbach is a certified public accountant and earned his B.S. in accounting from the University of Maryland.


Debbie Packer is a Director in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Human Resource Services Practice in the New York office.  She has over 30 years of experience  responding to clients on a wide range of HR, tax, and other issues relating to compensation and benefits programs, including review and analysis of processes/controls to maximize efficiencies, reduce costs, and mitigate legal risks.

Debbie attended Trinity College in Hartford, Ct. and graduated with a degree in History with Honors.  She received her JD with Honors from the National Law Center at George Washington University.

Debbie is a member of the New York and Washington D.C. Bar.  She has co-authored several articles on pension plan investments, was a featured speaker at the Fall 2009 Institutional Investor CFO Conference on Schedule C reporting issues, and has spoken at the 2013 AICPA Employee Benefit Plans Accounting, Auditing and Regulatory Conference and the 2014 and 2015 AICPA Employee Benefit Plans Conferences on DOL and IRS compliance issues.  She also serves on the Board of the New York Chapter of WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network).