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ERISA Litigation

Our clients increasingly face large, complex claims for benefits under pension and welfare benefit plans.

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To litigate cases about employee benefits requires substantive know-how and the ability to translate arcane concepts into terms that lay judges can understand. Mayer Brown has a thriving ERISA Litigation practice that combines deep experience, skilled advocacy and cutting-edge insights.

Our ERISA litigators are not benefits lawyers; nor are they litigation generalists. They are full-time litigators who focus on understanding how benefits disputes arise and are adjudicated. As such, our lawyers have been retained to offer counsel on all of the issues that typically arise in litigation or administrative proceedings involving employee benefit plans. We are regularly engaged by plan sponsors and plan administrators, as well as individual and corporate fiduciaries, trustees, custodians, financial institutions and plan service providers, in matters ranging from individual benefit disputes to complex class actions. And we counsel those same clients about how to reduce their risk of being sued in the first place.

The breadth of our experience and our client successes have led to accolades for the group and its lawyers from such publications as Legal 500 USA, Chambers USA and Best Lawyers. We have also been preapproved by fiduciary liability carriers to provide defense for their insureds.

When working with Mayer Brown, clients benefit not just from the skills and experience of our ERISA litigators but also from those of our other top-notch professionals. ERISA cases sometimes intersect with investigations by US federal agencies (such as the Department of Labor, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service), so we are accustomed to coordinating with our firm’s esteemed Securities Litigation & Enforcement and Tax Controversy practices—not to mention the ERISA Fiduciary counseling group, which contributes a deep understanding of ERISA’s regulatory environment. We also understand that the law is not static and is shaped by litigation strategy. We therefore turn to our elite Supreme Court & Appellate litigation practice when it will benefit our clients.

Although our practice covers the full domain of ERISA litigation, here is a sampling of our experience:

Fiduciary
Recent trends have prompted fiduciaries to be sued, often in class actions, under complaints challenging employer stock, securities lending, plan investment decisions, plan benefit determinations and fee arrangements, including fee sharing arrangements. We have experience in each of these areas. Lawyers in our ERISA Litigation practice are experienced in managing relationships with fiduciary liability carriers and in addressing concerns that arise in such cases. Our favorable results speak for themselves.

Regulatory
The tides of litigation often follow the regulatory agenda of the Department of Labor. Our ERISA Litigation lawyers counsel clients on how to mitigate risks stemming from Department of Labor rulemaking proceedings and have challenged regulatory overreaches in court using the tools of the Administrative Procedure Act. Together with members of our ERISA Fiduciary counseling group, we have also sought formal exemptions and opinion letters from the Department of Labor.

Enforcement Actions
Our ERISA Litigation lawyers are practiced in working with the Department of Labor to resolve investigations, audits and enforcement actions, which we have defended on behalf of plans, advisers and other fiduciaries and service providers. For example, we have represented investment fund advisers in connection with Department of Labor conflict-of-interest challenges, government contractors in Department of Labor investigations over plan fees charged to participants and financial institutions in connection with, among other things, the Department of Labor’s investigation into mutual fund market timing practices, the Department of Labor’s enforcement initiative against cross-trading and in preparing comments to the Department of Labor on its class exemption for passive cross-trading.

Given this wide range of experience, we are exceptionally well qualified to help clients deal with the controversies that ERISA still generates more than 40 years after it was adopted.

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