• Share
  • Email
  • Print

Douglas M. Love

Fax +1.206.370.6118
Mr. Love practices in the areas of employee benefits and ERISA, including tax-qualified and nonqualified retirement plans such as pension, profit sharing and 401(k) plans, 403(b), 457(b) and (f) plans, executive and stock-based compensation, ESOPs and welfare plans such as severance, medical and cafeteria plans. He was selected as Best Lawyers’ 2015 Seattle Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law “Lawyer of the Year”.


  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Employee Benefits (2007-2020)
  • Selected as Best Lawyers’ 2015 Seattle Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law “Lawyer of the Year”

Professional/Civic Activities

  • Western Pension & Benefits Council
  • Bethany Lutheran Church, Bainbridge Island

Speaking Engagements

  • “Trials and Tribulations of Plan Conversions”, Panel Speaker, ASPPA Benefits Council, Great Northwest, Quarterly Update, September 26, 2018, Seattle.
  • “Trump Administration Legal Effects on Employee Benefit Plans,” presented at Cement Employers Association Annual Meeting, September 19, 2017, Las Vegas.
  • “Litigation Merry-Go-Round", presented (along with Ron Kravitz of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller, Shah, LLP) at 2017 Western Benefits Conference, July 10, 2017, Anaheim.
  • “Case Law Update: ERISA and Employee Benefit Plans,” presented at Cement Employers Association Annual Meeting, September 27, 2016, Orlando.
  • “Legal Update: Review of Recent Federal Court Decisions Involving Employee Benefit Plans and ERISA,” presented at the Western Pension & Benefits Council Chapter Meeting, February 16, 2016, Seattle.
  • “409A and Select Benefits Issues for Employment Lawyers,” presented at the 16th Annual Labor and Employment Law Program providing continuing education for lawyers and HR professionals, The Seminar Group, August 15 and 16, 2013, Seattle.
  • “The Devil is in the Details: QDROs Dividing Retirement Benefits under ERISA,” presented on March 18, 2011 at American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Continuing Legal Education seminar.
  • “Investment Policies, Performance Monitoring & Market Turmoil,” 2009 Spring Seminar, Western Pension & Benefits Conference, with Marlow Kee, Valentina Zackrone, and Mary Ellen Mullen.
  • “The Final 409A Regulations: How Will They Impact Your Company?” co-presented with Robert Starin on January 22, 2008 at dinner meeting of Western Pension & Benefits Conference.
  • Presentations on the employee benefits aspects of business transactions on 4/26/06 and 9/23/08 at Washington State Continuing Legal Education seminars on “Documenting the Business Acquisition Transaction.”
  • “Deferred Compensation under Internal Revenue Code Section 409A,” co-presented with Robert Starin on 5/4/06 and 6/22/07 at breakfast briefings for employers.
  • “Employers as Retirement Plan Fiduciaries, Post-ENRON,” 2003 Spring Seminar, Western Pension & Benefits Conference.
  • “Key Issues in Drafting and Enforcing Executive Employment Agreements,” 2002 Spring Seminar, Western Pension & Benefits Conference.
  • “Severance Plans - Employers May Have Less Discretion Than They Think,” 1996 Northwest Employee Benefits Conference, Washington State Bar Association.
  • Advised employers and plan fiduciaries regarding benefits issues in connection with mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs, including transition of benefits and establishment of new benefit plans, assumption, merger, spin-off or termination of plans, due diligence and liability exposure, and participant voting of employer securities.
  • Advised employers and plan fiduciaries regarding fiduciary obligations, governance and investment policies, selection and retention of service providers.
  • Negotiated on behalf of employers the terms of service contracts with record keepers, insurers, investment advisors and managers.
  • Advised employers regarding custom portfolio or managed account investment alternatives, compliance with ERISA 404(c) and securities laws.
  • Advised employers and drafted plan documents to freeze, terminate, merge or spin-off retirement plans (including 401(k), 403(b) and defined benefit pension plans), required notices to participants, IRS, PBGC, and vendors.
  • Advised employers and prepared plan amendments regarding lump sum window offerings and annuitizations for defined benefit pension plans.
  • Advised employers regarding potential and actual withdrawal liability from multiemployer (union) pension plans, including in connection with business transactions, business or plant closures or bankruptcies, mass withdrawals or "last man standing" scenarios, building and construction industry exceptions, partial withdrawal, controlled group and successor liability, annual and 20-year limits on liability payments, reviews of liability assessments, and lump sum settlements with plans. Represented employers in disputing withdrawal liability assessments.
  • Assisted employers in responding to DOL or IRS audits. Negotiated settlements with DOL and IRS for employer’s plan operational errors.
  • Assisted employers with nondiscrimination testing of benefits plans, application of controlled group, leased employee and common law employee rules when performing testing.
  • Advised employers regarding liabilities associated with multiple employer pension and welfare benefit plans.
  • Advised employers regarding compliance with IRC Sections 409A and 457(f) for deferred compensation, bonus, incentive, phantom equity, severance, and supplemental executive retirement plans.
  • Prepared deferred compensation plans, including 401(k) wraps, retention, change of control, and short and long term incentive bonus programs, rabbi and secular trusts and phantom stock and appreciation rights plans for senior managers.
  • Advised employers regarding compliance with the Affordable Care Act with respect to medical plans sponsored by employers, unions or staffing firms.
  • Advised employers on HIPAA privacy requirements for health plans.
  • Obtained letter of tax-exempt status for health benefit trust (VEBA).
  • Advised employers on the tax treatment of fringe benefits, including expense reimbursements and allowances, corporate housing and commuter expenses.
  • Obtained DOL individual exemption from prohibited transaction rules for employer contribution to 401(k) plan for lost investment return on guaranteed investment contract ("GIC") issued by insurance company that failed.
  • Obtained IRS private letter rulings on tax-deferred status of non-qualified deferred compensation plans and rabbi trusts for executives.
  • Assisted employers with the design, drafting and amending of plans and summary plan descriptions, trust agreements, hardship withdrawal, QDRO and loan policies and forms, and the filing of plans with the IRS for determination of tax-qualified status.
  • Calculated correction amounts, prepared corrections for operational errors of 403(b) plans, 401(k) plans and other 401(a) plans under IRS’s self-correction programs (VCP, EPCRS). Advised employers regarding DOL’s self-correction program for fiduciary breaches under ERISA.
  • Assisted employers with freezing, terminating and winding up pension plans, including receiving approvals from PBGC and IRS for distribution and confirmation of tax-qualified status on termination.
  • Advised employers regarding PBGC reporting requirements for defined benefit pension plans.
  • Advised employers regarding restrictions on amendments and distributions for underfunded defined benefit pension plans.
  • Advised employers regarding partial termination of pension plan, vesting requirements.
  • Advised employers regarding ability to amend and terminate retiree medical plans.
  • Advised plan fiduciaries on requirements for ERISA 404(c) protection.
  • Advised employers regarding the application and calculation of excise taxes for prohibited transactions or nondeductible contributions.
  • Advised employers on the taxation of and tax withholding from benefit distributions, including distributions of death benefits.
  • Advised employers regarding ERISA and securities requirements of employer stock in retirement plans, tax treatment of in-kind distributions of employer stock from retirement plans.
  • Advised employers on tax, ERISA and age discrimination law issues regarding health expense reimbursement accounts, early retirement windows and contribution formulas for defined contributions retirement plans.
  • Prepared ERISA and non-ERISA welfare plan documents for employees working outside the U.S.
  • Advised bankrupt employers regarding termination of 401(k) plans, creditor issues.
  • Received Approval from Washington State Department of Retirement Systems for establishment of tax-qualified retirement plans as alternatives to participation in Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).
  • Advised employers regarding processing appeals of denied benefit claims under ERISA's claims procedure.
  • Advised employers regarding prohibited transaction issues, including whether underlying assets of plan investment constitute plan assets, exceptions for Venture Capital Operating Companies and Real Estate Operating Companies and for investments by Benefit Plan Investors of less than 25%.
  • Advised employers regarding rights of ESOP participants when plan sponsor is in bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Advised employers regarding preparation of 5500s and independent audits of trusts, and internal compliance audits of plans.