Our Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary group serves a wide variety of clients, including investment advisers, banks, trust companies, insurance companies, plan sponsors, corporate pension plans, corporate 401(k) plans, broker-dealers, employer pension plans, private investment funds, and other institutions that are active in the retirement market.
Its members have extensive government, private practice, and corporate experience, which lends a sophisticated, multifaceted perspective to their approach. They also recognize the contrasting perspectives of government representatives and general counsel and, above all, the need for responsive, high quality, independent legal representation. Their extensive knowledge of related securities and banking regulatory requirements adds another facet to our knowledge of employee beneﬁt plans.
Our ERISA fiduciary team provides a one-stop solution for addressing the complex issues encountered when applying ERISA ﬁduciary responsibility requirements to products and services for employee beneﬁt plan investors. Its experience spans across multiple disciplines, including:
We help our clients develop innovative products in response to rapidly changing market and regulatory conditions and participant and employer needs. Our goal is to enable clients to structure products and programs that both achieve business objectives and comply with ERISA, including ERISA’s prohibited transaction restrictions as well as applicable statutory and administrative exemptions.
Private Investment Funds
We help clients form private investment funds that are suitable for the institutional market, including hedge funds, venture capital and private equity funds, and institutional real estate funds. We have worked extensively with funds designed to avoid holding plan assets of ERISA investors as well as with plan-asset funds that are ERISA-compliant.
Bank Collective Investment Funds
We assist banks and trust companies in the formation, operation, reorganization, and termination of common and collective trust funds for employee beneﬁt plans and institutional investors. A major focus of this practice involves helping banks navigate the complex, multidimensional regulatory structure applicable to these increasingly popular pooled investment vehicles.
We help plan sponsors and investment managers negotiate alternative investments for ERISA plans, including private fund investments, derivative contracts, and stable value wrap contracts. We help clients develop and implement effective ERISA compliance for these and other investments.
We help clients in obtaining meaningful guidance and relief from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and other federal regulators. For those who are service providers to ERISA plans, we aid them in satisfying new applicable regulatory requirements.
Prohibited Transaction Exemptions
We help clients obtain individual exemptions from the DOL and provide advice and counsel regarding the application of class exemptions from the prohibited transaction restrictions of ERISA and Internal Revenue Code Section 4975.
ERISA Advisory Opinions
We help clients obtain interpretive advice under ERISA in the form of ERISA advisory opinions and information letters, as well as informal guidance.
Other Federal Regulators
We help clients resolve ERISA ﬁduciary issues raised by other federal regulators, including federal banking regulators, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We represent institutional ﬁduciaries and investors that become involved in controversies relating to the discharge of ﬁduciary responsibilities under ERISA. We work with clients to develop practical and efﬁcient ways of dealing with these controversies. In appropriate cases, these solutions often allow our clients to resolve these issues short of litigation, with its attendant publicity. When litigation does occur, we represent our clients efﬁciently and effectively.
DOL Enforcement Matters
We help clients deal with DOL investigations and inquiries. We assist clients in responding to questions from DOL’s national and regional investigators. When the DOL identiﬁes alleged violations, we help clients develop a defensive strategy and respond to the DOL in a way that protects the client’s ﬁnancial resources and reputation. When investigations involve both the DOL and the SEC, we draw upon our ﬁrm’s extensive background in SEC enforcement to provide integrated and effective representation.
Plan Governance and Operation
We help plan sponsors identify and document optimum allocations of ﬁduciary responsibilities under ERISA. We review and draft investment policy statements. Carefully considering these matters ahead of time can avoid signiﬁcant problems later on, particularly with respect to matters relating to supervision and oversight of investment managers and other plan service providers. We also help plan sponsors, investment managers, consultants, record keepers, and other service providers negotiate agreements in a way that accurately reﬂects the scope of their responsibilities. We assist corporate defined benefit pension plans with on-balance-sheet and off-balance-sheet de-risking transactions and non-cash contributions. We assist corporate 401(k) plans with navigating the myriad of service providers and design decisions needed to establish and operate a plan.