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Eric Paley is a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits team and practice group co-leader of the Labor & Employment practice group. He advises clients on how to comply with the laws governing their employee benefits programs.

What do you focus on?

Three hallmarks distinguish my practice.

Representing nonprofit organizations

I work primarily (though not exclusively) with a wide range of nonprofit organizations—hospitals/health systems, colleges/universities, iconic arts/cultural institutions, trade associations and social service agencies. Nonprofits are much different animals than for-profit companies. My appreciation for those differences coupled with my vast experience in the sector give me a unique perspective on the issues my clients are facing and allow me to be a more effective advisor.

Focusing on ERISA fiduciary compliance

Of late, I spend a significant amount of time working with clients on ERISA fiduciary compliance—helping them establish or reconstitute their retirement plan committees; advising them on whether to engage a third-party investment consultant or conduct an RFP for a new recordkeeper; and educating boards, officers and committee members on the rapidly changing legal landscape in which they operate.

Staying one step ahead

One of the things I enjoy most about working in this field is that the law is never static and the issues I face on a daily basis vary greatly. Fee disclosure. Health care reform. Same-sex marriage. The growing mountain of compliance burdens can quickly overwhelm employers. I try to keep my clients on task by focusing on practicalities and, whenever possible, bringing my sense of humor to bear on what can often be inane and unnecessarily complex rules.

What do you see on the horizon?

Those in the trenches can expect to see more legislation, more regulations and more lawsuits in the future. The lack of employee retirement readiness, in particular, is a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode.


  • Speaker, “Fiduciary Responsibility in the New Age of § 403(b) Plans,” Webinar, June 15, 2009.
  • Speaker, “COBRA Changes Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” Webinar, February 26, 2009.
  • Speaker, “Controlling Health Care Costs,” Lorman Education Services, Providence, Rhode Island, September 25, 2008.
  • Speaker, 403(b) Retirement Plan Summit, Pension & Investments Magazine, New York City, New York, April 8, 2008.
  • Speaker, “The Law of Wellness,” Northern California Human Resources Association, Oakland, California, September 18, 2007.
  • Speaker and Panelist, “Funding Vehicles and Cost-Containment Strategies,” 5th Annual Great Lakes Public Finance Conference, Chicago, Illinois, November 15, 2006.
  • Speaker, “Legal Issues Arising in the Modification and Termination of OPEB of Public Employees,” 2006 National Summit on GASB 43 & GASB 45, Arlington, Virginia, September 22, 2006.


  • Coauthor, “Stage Set for Supreme Court to Consider ERISA Preemption of San Francisco ‘Pay or Play’ Law as Ninth Cuircuit Denies Rehearing En Banc,” Bender’s Labor & Employment Bulletin, April 2009.
  • Author, “EACA Withdrawals,” Journal of Pension Benefits, Spring 2008.
  • Coauthor, “Health Care Reform in the Workplace: Everything Old Is New Again,” HR West Magazine, December 2007.
  • Author, “Taxation of Roth Distributions,” Journal of Pension Benefits, Summer 2007.
  • Author, “Nonspousal IRAs,” Journal of Pension Benefits, Spring 2007.

Media Clips

  • Preparing for Healthcare Reform
    Corporate Secretary | March 26, 2013

    Rochester Labor & Employment partner Eric Paley discusses how preparing for provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that go into effect in 2014 could be a big deal for many companies.

  • Legal Advisers Step in to Help Navigate Uncharted Waters
    Rochester Business Journal | September 21, 2012

    Rochester Labor & Employment partner Eric Paley and Rochester Labor & Employment counsel Kate Saracene discuss how the firm has responded to the passing of the Affordable Care Act and have helped clients navigate the changes.

  • Viewpoint: Work, worry lie ahead for retirement plan administrators
    Rochester Business Journal | June 8, 2012

    This contributed article, authored by Rochester Labor & Employment partner Eric Paley and Rochester Labor & Employment associate Stacy Lawkowski, discusses new regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration that will keep retirement plan administrators busy.




Is your employee benefit plan audit-ready?
December 3, 2013

Nixon Peabody's Semiannual Rochester CLE Program
November 22, 2013 | Rochester, NY

Buffalo Employee Benefits Breakfast Briefing
November 5, 2013 | Buffalo, NY

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Eric Paley