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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, Gretchen Harders, Ian L. Levin, Jason Bortz, Jeanie Cogill, Jennifer McGovern, John R. Woodrum, Lori E. Bostrom, Lourdes Gonzalez, Michael Prame, Norma Drelich Mero, Patricia Anne Kuhn, 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

Andrew L. Oringer is a partner and immediate past 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, Emerging Issues Coordinator of the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation and immediate past chair of the New York State Bar Association 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 two of its chapters, and has authored a chapter in a leading treatise on the taxation of nonqualified deferred compensation and. Mr. Oringer is highly rated by a number of key ranking organizations, has been repeatedly 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.

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 (2012-2021) in Employee Benefits (ERISA) law and New York Super Lawyers (2013-2021).  She recently co-authored the articles “DOL Proposes New Rules Regulating ESG,” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (July 7, 2020) and “Sun Capital Redux:  Private Equity and Pension Liability,” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (April 5, 2016).

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 is General Counsel at the American Retirement Association.  Allison brings nearly 20 years of experience—both in government service and private practice—with a broad range of employee benefits issues under ERISA and the Code.  Allison served as a legislation counsel for the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress and was on the staff of the Office of Regulations and Interpretations of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.  After leaving the Labor Department, Allison worked at Eversheds Sutherland (US) in Washington, DC.

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.

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 of Alston & Bird LLP, and the leader of the firm’s ERISA Litigation team. Emily primarily represents employers, plan sponsors, insurers, and fiduciaries in employee benefit disputes and advises on litigation avoidance strategies. She has experience defending a variety of individual, mass action, and class action claims for benefits and breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA, including those involving investments, excessive fees, employer stock, actuarial factors, benefit termination, and health care matters.  Emily also represents clients in related disputes that include employment, securities, insurance, breach of contract, professional malpractice, and government contract matters. She also assists clients responding to government audits, investigations, and subpoenas.

Emily was one of five lawyers named a “Rising Star” by Law360 in the field of employee benefits in 2018, and was most recently recognized by The Best Lawyers in America© in Litigation – ERISA. Emily is the former chair of the American Bar Association’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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Jeanie Cogill is a partner in King &Spalding’s Corporate, Finance and Investments practice. She specializes in the executive compensation, employee benefits and ERISA fiduciary areas of law.

Jeanie advises public and private companies across a variety of industry sectors on all aspects of executive compensation arrangements, including equity incentive programs, employment agreements, change in control protections, incentive programs and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. Jeanie also regularly advises clients on executive compensation and employee benefits issues arising in the context of mergers and acquisitions and financing transactions. Jeanie helps employers, management, and plan fiduciary committees design, establish and administer tax-qualified pension plans, health and welfare plans and fringe benefit programs, and counsels them on their fiduciary, tax and other compliance responsibilities. 

Jeanie also counsels investment managers and their principals, including sponsors of hedge funds, private equity funds and real estate funds, on the fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction provisions of ERISA, including the structuring and administration of private commingled funds that are marketed to employee benefit plans and tax-advantaged accounts.

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, which serves clients with fiduciary services in retirement and investment management.  Lori manages the legal work for Newport Trust, and is also on the senior team responsible for new business engagements.  She previously served as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at OFI Global Asset Management, Inc. (OppenheimerFunds) for over 10 years, heading a team of 30 attorneys, paralegals, and marketing compliance professionals covering investment product distribution. Previously, Lori spent 9 years in-house at Prudential Financial, Inc. and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, specializing in investment products and initiatives, having started her legal career at large and midsize law firms. She has served on various committees of financial industry and benefits trade associations, focusing on retirement policy and investment product distribution. Lori has a B.A. from Skidmore College and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. 

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, including Regulation Best Interest and Form CRS, as well as broker-dealer supervision, anti-money laundering compliance, and securities arbitration.  The Office also has program responsibility for business conduct obligations of security-based swap dealers.

During her tenure, Ms. Gonzalez has received numerous SEC awards, including the SEC’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017, which is the SEC’s highest honorary award and given annually to recognize employees or teams who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the SEC’s mission.  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

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 Warner Media Group, LLC (formerly known as 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 WarnerMedia almost 16 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.  2019 was the third year of the charity and 100% of all net proceeds from the chess event will be donated to the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to fund research for the early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.

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.

Sarah Burt is the Chief Legal Officer for the ERISA/Benefits team at Prudential Financial and leads a team of attorneys who provide advice to the businesses and human resources on ERISA, Internal Revenue Code, and other laws affecting benefit plans and IRAs. 

On a daily basis, Sarah and her team provide advice on a wide range of ERISA and Internal Revenue Code issues including, but not limited to, prohibited transaction exemptions, fiduciary requirements, and fund structure.  In addition, Sarah and her team provide advice on welfare, wellness, pension, severance, and deferred compensation plans.  Sarah’s clients include the Prudential businesses that sell products and services to ERISA plans and IRAs including Prudential’s broker-dealers, asset managers, and insurance companies. 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.  After holding a number of positions within Prudential’s ERISA/Benefits team, Sarah become Chief Legal Officer for the ERISA/Benefits team in 2018. 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 an Executive Compensation & Benefits partner in Weil’s Tax Department 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 is recognized for Employee Benefits by Super Lawyers and has been recommended for Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation by Legal 500 US. She 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 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 senior counsel and advises the firm on products and services to ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) plans. 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.

Tom serves as Head of the Retirement Legal team within Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management division and covers ERISA Title I and other pension-related rules along with Investment Advisers Act issues across the broker-dealer’s retirement platform.  With twenty years of experience in the financial services industry, 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 within Wealth Management.  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 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.

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.


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.