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ERISA 2018: The Evolving World


Speaker(s): Alicia C. McCarthy, Allison E. Wielobob, Andrew L. Oringer, Arthur H. Kohn, Bruce D. Gallant, Christina Y. Lee, Emily S. Costin, Erin K. Cho, George Sepsakos, Gretchen Harders, Ian L. Levin, Jason Bortz, Jeanie Cogill, Jennifer McGovern, John R. Woodrum, Lori E. Bostrom, Lourdes Gonzalez, Mabel Capolongo, Michael Prame, Norma Mero, Patricia Anne Kuhn, Peter E. Haller, Robert C. Fleder, Roberta Ufford, Sarah E. Downie, Sarah L. Burt, Seth Rosenbloom, Shannon Barrett, Suzzanne Yao, Thomas D'Elisa, William E. Ryan III
Recorded on: Aug. 6, 2018
PLI Program #: 220366

Alicia C. McCarthy is Counsel in the Executive Compensation and Benefits Department at Wachtell Lipton.  Ms. McCarthy advises clients with respect to executive compensation and employee benefit matters involving mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs, joint ventures, financings, litigation as well as plan compliance.  Her experience includes ERISA’s fiduciary rules and the investment of plan assets with an extensive background representing financial institutions, fund sponsors and ERISA investors.  She also advises on executive compensation matters including performance-based compensation plans, nonqualified pension plans, and employment, severance and change in control agreements.

Ms. McCarthy chairs the Committee of Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  She speaks frequently on executive compensation and ERISA topics for the Practicing Law Institute where she co-chairs the ERISA Investment Fiduciary Basics program.  She is the recipient of the Pro Bono Publico Award (2010, 2011 and 2014) for her services to The Legal Aid Society.  She is also recognized in Best Lawyers of America (2012-2019) in Employee Benefits (ERISA) law and New York Super Lawyers (2013-2018).  She recently co-authored the articles “Sun Capital Redux:  Private Equity and Pension Liability,” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (April 5, 2016); “Counting to 80,” Private Equity Manager (August 2013); and “New Ways to Manage Old Pension Liabilities,” Law 360 (June 17, 2013).

Ms. McCarthy received her B.A. in 1981 from Georgetown University and her J.D. cum laude in 1984 from Brooklyn Law School, where she was a member of the Journal of International Law.


Allison Wielobob brings more than 20 years of employee benefits law experience—both in government service and private practice—to advise her clients on a range of fiduciary issues under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Allison also counsels on Internal Revenue Code issues affecting retirement plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, and health and welfare benefit plans.

At the U.S. Department of Labor, Allison was on the staff of the Office of Regulations and Interpretations of the Employee Benefits Security Administration and she brings a wealth of knowledge of critical issues relating to employee benefits plans. She draws on her extensive experience -- including her time spent working on the Department’s initiatives concerning default investment alternatives and disclosure of retirement plan fees -- to provide effective guidance to clients.

Prior to joining Eversheds Sutherland (US), Allison also served as a legislation counsel for the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress and as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service.


Andrew L. Oringer is a partner and the co-chair of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group at Dechert LLP.  He is 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 has authored a chapter in a leading treatise on the taxation of nonqualified deferred compensation and is co-editor of a leading treatise on ERISA fiduciary law.  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.


Arthur Kohn is a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP. His practice focuses 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, a guest lecturer at Columbia Law School and a member of the Columbia College Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Arthur joined Cleary in 1986 and became a partner in 1995.

He received a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Scholar and received Phi Beta Kappa honors.


Bruce D. Gallant is Of Counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.  Prior to joining Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in 2016, Mr. Gallant was Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., supporting the JPMorgan institutional investment management and related business units with primary responsibility for ERISA and general fiduciary matters.  He was also responsible for advising clients on new products, portfolio investment transactions and business practices, participation in legal and business staff training and education and providing general legal advice.  Prior to joining JPMorgan in 1996, Mr. Gallant worked at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton from 1981, where his responsibilities included representations of broker-dealers, investment banks and other financial institutions, investment managers and other corporations. Mr. Gallant is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, in 1977 and the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1981.


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.


Emily Seymour Costin is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office, where she focuses her practice primarily on the defense of employee benefits disputes and counseling employers, plan sponsors, and fiduciaries on litigation avoidance strategies. Emily represents plan sponsors, insurers, and fiduciaries in individual, mass action, and class action litigation over claims for benefits and breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. She has experience litigating various types of ERISA disputes, including those involving 401(k)/employer stock, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), benefit termination, fees, and health care matters.

In addition, Emily has defended clients against a variety of other types of disputes, including employment, securities, insurance, breach of contract, health care, and government contracts/FCA-related claims, and has extensive experience guiding clients through regulatory and internal investigations. Emily is the chair-elect of the ABA’s Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB), a member of the editorial advisory board of the Benefits Law Journal, and a contributing author to the BNA treatise ERISA Litigation. Emily was named a Washington, DC Super Lawyer in Employee Benefits in 2018. She graduated with high honors from George Washington University Law School, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif.


Erin K. Cho is a principal in the Fiduciary Responsibility practice group 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 on exemption requests and regulatory initiatives before the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

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. in History from Yale University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and her J.D. from Harvard Law School (cum laude).


Gretchen Harders is a Member of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation and HealthCare and Life Sciences practice group of Epstein Becker & Green, in the New York office.  Ms. Harders counsels a broad range of clients on executive compensation and employee benefit issues, tax-qualified and non-qualified plans, 401(k) plans, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, deferred compensation, executive incentive compensation plans, executive employment and severance agreements, Section 409A compliance, equity-based compensation plans, multiemployer plans and health and welfare plans and trusts.  Ms. Harders’ clients include Fortune 500 companies, financial services institutions, health care providers and tax-exempt organizations.

Ms. Harders is a frequent speaker on various employee benefit and executive compensation issues and developments and has authored articles on various topics of ERISA and employee benefits law.  She is on the editorial board of the Bloomberg BNA Compensation Planning Journal and has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America and New York Metro Super Lawyers and Top Women lists.  Ms. Harders received her B.A. from the University of Chicago and her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School (cum laude).


Ian L. Levin is a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel, where he concentrates on executive compensation and employee benefits, with a focus on the employee benefit aspects of mergers and acquisitions and issues arising from the investment of pension plan assets. He represents both executives and companies with respect to the negotiation and drafting of executive employment agreements and advises as to the design and establishment of virtually all types of employee benefit arrangements ranging from cash incentive, equity, deferred compensation and change-in-control arrangements to broad-based retirement and welfare plans. He also advises clients on fiduciary and plan asset requirements of ERISA, including the structure and offering of various securities and securities products; the formation and ongoing compliance of private equity and hedge funds; the administration, management and investment of employee benefit plans; and compliance with ERISA’s various prohibited transaction rules and exemptions.

Ian has been recognized as a leading employment and employee benefits attorney by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 US and New York Super Lawyers. A highly sought-after thought leader, he was recently quoted in articles published by Bloomberg and The Washington Post. He also co-authored the SRZ Client Alert “House Tax Reform Bill: Potential Dramatic Changes for U.S. Compensation Arrangements” and he discussed “The M&A Transactional Practice” at Practising Law Institute ERISA: The Evolving World Seminar. Ian serves as an adjunct professor at New York Law School, a member of the Emory Law Alumni Board and as chair of Emory Law School’s Center for Transactional Law and Practice Advisory Board.

Ian earned his LL.M. from New York University School of Law and his J.D. from Emory University School of Law. He received his B.A. from Union College.


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).


Jennifer McGovern, Managing Director, leads BlackRock’s US Wealth Advisory Product Structure and Oversight Team.  The team is responsible for US mutual fund product management and development, including new product launches and product lifecycle events.  Ms. McGovern is also an officer of BlackRock’s US mutual fund family and a member of BlackRock’s Americas Product Development Committee.

Ms. McGovern began her career at BlackRock 1999 as an analyst in the Product Management and Development Group working on open-end and closed-end funds.  From 2007-2008, she was Assistant Vice President and Counsel at Harris and Harris Group, Inc., an early stage venture capital company. 

Ms. McGovern earned a B.A. degree in economics and art history from Columbia University and a J.D. degree, cum laude, from Brooklyn Law School. 


John R. Woodrum is a shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart.  He advises clients in maintaining compliance with state and federal laws which govern employee rights and entitlements.

Mr. Woodrum has extensive experience representing employers in collective bargaining, and in federal court litigation defending claims brought by multi-employer pension and welfare plans, government agencies, and employees under ERISA and other employee benefit statutes, and labor contracts.  He routinely counsels and defends employers in disputes with employees, retirees and other claimants involving pension benefits, severance pay and health care benefits, including labor and benefits issues that arise in corporate transactions and bankruptcy.

Mr. Woodrum serves as a Trustee of the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation, and is a member of the California and District of Columbia bars.  He has litigated cases in numerous federal district and circuit courts, including the United States Supreme Court.  Mr. Woodrum received his B.A. from Harvard University (1969) and his J.D. from the University of Southern California (1974).


LORI E. BOSTROM is Managing Director and Chief Legal Officer of Newport Trust Company focused on fiduciary issues in retirement and investment management matters.  She previously served as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at OFI Global Asset Management, Inc. (OppenheimerFunds) for over 10 years, heading the legal functions covering product distribution, marketing, fund disclosure and retirement products. Prior to joining OppenheimerFunds in 2004, Ms. Bostrom spent 9 years in-house at Prudential Financial, Inc. and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, specializing in investment management law and fund-related business initiatives. Ms. Bostrom spent the first several years of her legal career in private practice. She graduated with a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from Skidmore College and a J.D. from Cornell Law School, where she served as Managing Editor of the Cornell Law Review. Ms. Bostrom has served on various committees in financial industry and benefits trade associations, focusing on retirement policy and retirement product distribution.


Mabel Capolongo has been the Director of the Office of Enforcement, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) since November 2011.  The Office of Enforcement promotes the protection of pension and welfare benefits under ERISA by ensuring a strong and effective national and field office enforcement program through (1) policy formulation; (2) project identification and program planning; (3) guidance development and implementation; (4) field liaison; (5) field and project evaluation; and (6) Investigations to detect and correct violations of Title I or ERISA and related criminal laws that are conducted by the investigative staff in EBSA’s field offices. Ms. Capolongo has spent her entire career with the Department of Labor, specifically EBSA and its predecessors. She has been with the DOL since May 1979 and previously served as EBSA’s Director, Philadelphia Regional Office from January 1998 until her appointment as Director of Enforcement.  She also previously served as District Supervisor, Washington District Office; Senior Investigator; and Auditor.   She has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (Finance) and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the American University.


Mike Prame represents benefit plan fiduciaries, financial institutions, health insurers, investment managers, recordkeepers, and other service providers to benefit plans in class actions and complex litigation matters. Within his litigation practice, Mike also represents service providers and plan sponsors in Department of Labor investigations and enforcement matters.

In addition to his litigation practice, Mike focuses on matters involving the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), including pension plan funding issues, distress or involuntary plan terminations, as well as benefit issues arising in corporate transactions and bankruptcy.

Mike is Groom’s managing partner and a member of Groom’s Executive Management Committee. Prior to joining the committee, Michael chaired the firm’s Litigation Practice Group.


Mr. Kronheim leads TIAA’s Pension Law group, which specializes in the ERISA, Internal Revenue Code and insurance aspects of defined contribution retirement plans and products.  He was formerly Law Vice President at Alcatel-Lucent and Lucent Technologies, a partner at Rogers & Wells (now Clifford Chance), and associate and counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton.

Mr. Kronheim graduated from Williams College, the Columbia University School of Law (Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar), and New York University Law School (LL.M. Taxation).

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the ERISA Industry Committee and makes frequent industry and client presentations on fiduciary matters, pension litigation, 403(b) plans, and related insurance issues.


Mr. Ryan is President and Chief Fiduciary Officer of Newport Trust Company, and served as President and Chief Fiduciary Officer of Evercore Trust Company, N.A., prior to the acquisition of Evercore Trust’s institutional trustee and independent fiduciary business by Newport Trust in 2017. Prior to Evercore Trust, Mr. Ryan was with Morgan Stanley, where he was an Executive Director in the Legal and Compliance Division and Head of ERISA Law, responsible for coordinating ERISA and qualified tax issues for Morgan Stanley's Institutional Securities Group (Institutional Brokerage), Morgan Stanley Investment Management (Asset Management), and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (Retail Brokerage). Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Mr. Ryan was the Chief ERISA/Benefits Counsel for Prudential Financial, Inc. from 1995 through 2004, handling ERISA-related HR, compensation and product issues for Prudential Insurance, and was in private practice in New York from 1987 through 1995, specializing in ERISA issues. On behalf of various industry groups, Mr. Ryan has met with and testified before the U.S. Department of Labor, the Treasury Department, the White House, and various state regulators on fiduciary and other retirement issues. He has also served on various industry groups, including the SIFMA Retirement Committee (where he served as co-chair from 2010-2013). Mr. Ryan holds an A.B. Degree in History from Princeton University in 1984, a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1987 (where he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review), and a Masters in Taxation (LL.M.) from New York University School of Law in 1995.


Norma is an Assistant General Counsel at Time Warner Inc.  She is an employee benefits lawyer responsible for Time Warner employee benefit plans, including the 401(k), pension plan, excess and deferred compensation plans, health and welfare benefits, COBRA, HIPAA etc.  In addition, she provides fiduciary advice to the Investment Committee and acts as a liaison to the Administrative Committee.  Norma works closely with Corporate Benefits, divisional benefit departments and collaborates with other attorneys within the legal department on contracts, litigation and securities matters.

Prior to joining Time Warner almost 15 years ago, Norma practiced employee benefits law at Morgan Lewis & Bockius in New York and Washington D.C.  Before that, she worked as a senior tax consultant in the Compensation and Benefits practice at KPMG, and Deloitte Touche.  She received a JD/MBA from Emory University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Norma is a co-founder and board member of the Charity Chess Championship, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for charitable causes.  2018 was the second year of the charity and all the proceeds from the chess event will be donated to the Mount Sinai Ovarian Cancer Translational Research Laboratory.

Norma lives in New York City with her husband and son, a chess aficionado.


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.


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 EXPERIENCE

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.         

BAR ADMISISONS

Mr. Haller is admitted to the Bars of the States of New York, Massachusetts and Maine. 

EDUCATION

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.           


Sarah Burt is the lead ERISA Title I attorney at Prudential Financial and is responsible for co-leading Prudential’s ERISA/Employee Benefits team.  Sarah has served as the lead ERISA attorney on the Department of Labor Fiduciary Investment Advice Rule and is a member of Prudential’s Extended Leadership Team.  On a daily basis, Sarah provides advice on a wide range of ERISA Title I and Internal Revenue Code issues including, but not limited to, prohibited transaction exemptions, fiduciary requirements, and fund structure.  In addition, Sarah provides ERISA advice on the administration of group life and disability policies and real estate transactions.  Sarah’s clients include the Prudential businesses that sell products and services to ERISA plans and IRAs including Prudential’s broker-dealer, asset management, insurance, and annuity businesses. Sarah is also the lead lawyer for the Investment Oversight Committee of Prudential’s company plans.

Sarah joined Prudential in 2007 as a Director, Corporate Counsel in the Benefits/ERISA division.  In 2010, Sarah was promoted to Vice President, Corporate Counsel, and in 2012, Sarah became primarily responsible for providing advice on ERISA Title I issues.  In 2013, Sarah became Co-Lead ERISA Counsel for the ERISA/Employee Benefits team.

Before joining Prudential’s Law Department in 2007, Sarah was an attorney in Proskauer Rose LLP’s Employee Benefits Practice Group.  While at Proskauer, Sarah primarily provided ERISA and Internal Revenue Code advice to multi-employer pension and welfare plans (i.e., Taft-Hartley plans).

Sarah graduated cum laude from Cornell Law School.  She received her undergraduate degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.


Sarah Downie is a partner in Weil’s Executive Compensation & Benefits practice and is based in New York. Ms. Downie advises clients on all aspects of compensation and employee benefits.

Ms. Downie has extensive experience in the executive compensation and employee benefits aspects of mergers, acquisitions and financings. She represents senior executives and companies in the negotiation and drafting of employment and severance agreements. She also advises as to the design and operation of executive and employee benefit arrangements including equity compensation and cash incentive plans, change in control and retention arrangements and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. In addition, Ms. Downie regularly advises employers on the design and operation of tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and 457(b) plans, as well as health and welfare benefit plans.

Ms. Downie advises clients on pension plan investment and compliance with ERISA’s fiduciary obligations and prohibited transaction rules. She regularly counsels private fund sponsors in connection with ERISA’s “plan asset” regulations and with VCOC, REOC and similar issues.

Ms. Downie served as Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Committee and is a member of the Steering Committee of the New York Chapter of Worldwide Employee Benefits Network.


Seth Rosenbloom is Associate General Counsel & Senior Director at Betterment, an automated investment service that manages over $14 billion in assets for more than 350,000 clients. Seth serves as the lead counsel for the company’s digital advice and 401(k) product offerings. He also spends significant time responding to regulatory and policy developments that impact Betterment. Prior to joining Betterment, Seth worked as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and served as a law clerk to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Seth received a J.D. from Columbia Law School and a B.A. from Stanford University. 


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.


Suzzanne is associate general counsel and advises the firm on products and services to ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) plans. She also assists in maintaining the firm’s internal retirement plans. Suzzanne is co-chair of the Firmwide Asian Professionals Network. She joined Goldman Sachs in 2007 as a vice president in the ERISA and Benefits Group and was named managing director in 2013. Prior to joining the firm, Suzzanne was an associate in the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Suzzanne earned a BA from Columbia University and a JD from Harvard Law School.


A partner and chair of the firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group, Robert Fleder has handled ERISA, employee benefits and executive compensation matters for over 40 years. Described in The Best Lawyers in America as “without question the ‘Dean of the Bar’ in his practice area globally, period,” Rob is recognized as one of the leading lawyers in the United States in the area of employee benefits and executive compensation by peer review organizations Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and Who’s Who Legal. Additionally, he has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (New York City) since 1987, and was named among the “Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys – Employee Benefits and ERISA” by Human Resource Executive magazine.

EXPERIENCE

Rob has extensive and sophisticated experience in the legal, accounting, actuarial and human resource issues connected with the implementation and operation of employee benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements.  In numerous merger and acquisition transactions, he has addressed the issues that arise in connection with the assumption of (or failure to assume) benefit plans and other employee obligations.  His major transactions include representation of the airline pilots who led the successful multi-billion dollar effort to have employees acquire a majority stake in United Airlines through an ESOP.

Rob has been involved in defending and settling significant ERISA fiduciary claims involving private plaintiffs and the Department of Labor.  Rob regularly advises about ERISA fiduciary matters for investment funds and plan fiduciaries. Corporate bankruptcies often require major support on benefits and executive compensation, and Rob regularly participates in restructuring and reorganization transactions of every type. In particular, he has significant experience dealing with troubled pension plans, including dealing with PBGC, the federal agency that insures underfunded pensions when a plan sponsor fails, and dealing with multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability.

Rob is a member of the Executive Committee of the Tax Section of the New York State Bar Association and a member of the New York City and American Bar Associations and has written and lectured extensively.  He is co-chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Tax Section of the New York State Bar Association.


Jason Bortz is a senior vice president and senior counsel at Capital Group, the investment manager to the American Funds.  He has been practicing law for 20 years.  Throughout his career, Jason has worked on tax and retirement plan issues.  Prior to joining Capital, Jason was a partner with Davis & Harman, LLP in Washington, D.C.  Before that, he was a law clerk for a federal court of appeals judge.  He holds a juris doctorate degree from Cornell Law School and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hamilton College.  He is a contributing author to several books, including the 403(b) Answer Book, the Annuities Answer Book, The Complete Guide to Nonprofits and BNA’s Tax Management Portfolio on Cash or Deferred Arrangements.  He is a member of the California, New York and Washington, D.C. bars. Jason is based in Los Angeles.


Lourdes Gonzalez is Assistant Chief Counsel for Sales Practices in the Division of Trading and Markets at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  The Office of Sales Practices has program responsibility for a broad range of broker-dealer sales practice issues, as well as broker-dealer supervision, anti-money laundering compliance, and securities arbitration. 

Ms. Gonzalez also has served as Counsel to former SEC Commissioner Laura S. Unger.   Prior to joining the Commission, Ms. Gonzalez worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  She earned her law degree from George Washington University and her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.


Tom serves as an attorney in Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management division and covers ERISA Title I and Investment Advisers Act issues across the firm’s wealth management retirement platform.  Tom regularly provides counsel to the Wealth Management business on all matters relating to the firm’s ERISA policies and procedures and is instrumental in product development initiatives.  Tom maintains a specific focus on fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction issues related to ERISA plans and IRAs.  Prior to joining the firm in 2012, Tom worked in similar roles during the preceding ten years at Xerox Corporation and Mass Mutual.  Tom is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and received his juris doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law.  Tom is admitted to practice in New York.


George Sepsakos represents clients on a broad range of ERISA, federal tax and securities law matters. His practice is primarily focused on issues related to Title I of ERISA, including fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction issues. For example, George’s practice includes:

  • Regularly defending plan trustees, fiduciaries, and service providers in investigations and enforcement proceedings brought by the Department of Labor (DOL).
  • Representing clients in front of the DOL, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), seeking advisory opinions, prohibited transaction exemptions, no action letters, and other guidance.
  • Counseling banks, broker-dealers, recordkeepers, investment managers and advisers and other financial services companies on the structuring and marketing of retirement plan services and products. Advising clients on compliance with DOL’s final regulation defining the term “fiduciary.”
  • Regularly counseling large employers, and plan committees to develop processes and best practices regarding plan investments, including the acquisition and management of employer securities, and plan governance matters.
  • Conducting reviews and internal audits of plan governance and administrative practices.

George is a frequent speaker and author on a range of employee benefits related topics. Prior to joining the firm, George worked as an ERISA Enforcement Advisor within the Office of Enforcement of the Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration.