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Claire P. Rowland



Claire Rowland is a senior associate in the firm’s Corporate practice group and a member of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation team. Claire counsels a variety of large and small private employers, publicly traded employers, state and local governmental entities and nonprofit organizations across all industries. She is a credentialed member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA), both as a qualified pension administrator (QPA) and a qualified 401(k) administrator (QKA).

What do you focus on?

My extensive background as a third-party administrator provides me with a unique insight into the practical administrative and operational issues facing plan sponsors, and the interaction of these issues with the legal requirements applicable to their employee benefit and executive compensation plans. I focus on leveraging this insight to clients’ advantage by combining creative problem-solving approaches with real world, practical advice in the following areas:

M&A Transactions

In mergers and acquisitions transactions, I advise clients on pre- and post-transaction compliance issues, plan mergers and spin-offs. Prior to closing, I review deal documents; draft representations, warranties and disclosures; and conduct due diligence reviews to identify and assess potential employee benefit plan compliance issues. I counsel clients regarding any required corrective actions and prepare and implement those corrections. Because advance planning for transitioning employee benefits and executive compensation arrangements is imperative, I devise benefit plan transition strategies for clients and coordinate with their third-party service providers both pre- and post-transaction to provide continuing counsel on the implementation of the transition plan.

IRS Audits and Department of Labor Investigations

I defend employers in IRS audits and Department of Labor investigations of their employee benefit plans, advising on the production of requested or subpoenaed materials and representing clients during the in-person interviews conducted by the government. No one enjoys audits—I focus on keeping the process moving efficiently and negotiating with the government to reduce the amount of any proposed penalties to something within the realm of reasonable so that clients can move on with their lives and return their attention to their business.

Employee Benefit Plan Design and Regulatory Compliance

I counsel employers on all types of employee benefit and executive compensation plans, including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, 457(b) and (f) plans, defined benefit plans, cash balance plans, ESOPs, multiple employer plans, multiemployer plans, stock option plans, stock bonus plans, LTIPs, severance plans, etc.

Working with their boards of directors, committees and human resources and payroll personnel, I advise clients on how to design and operate their employee benefit and executive compensation plans to comply with statutory, regulatory and fiduciary requirements, and how to correct their compliance failures via self-correction or submission to the IRS’s Voluntary Correction Program or the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program.

Retirement Plan Policy and Legislation

I am most inspired by the ultimate goal of employer-sponsored retirement plans―helping workers save for retirement―and I am a staunch advocate of employer retirement plans. I regularly volunteer to lobby Congress regarding federal tax law, proposed legislation and retirement plan policy.

What do you see on the horizon?

Congress can’t seem to keep its hands off of your health or your retirement. Expect significantly more legislative proposals in 2019 directed at improving the rate and amount of retirement savings by employees—and along with that expect the attendant headaches of more regulations and more changes to existing employer-sponsored retirement plans. Meanwhile, significant new developments in technology like blockchain and smart contracts, which have already impacted securities law, appear poised to impact—in ways expected/projected to be both good and bad at this point—not just plan investments but plan administration, trust accounting and plan audits. Plan fiduciaries will need to keep abreast of the effect these technological developments will have on employee benefit plans.

Presentations

  • “Panel Discussion with Industry Professionals,” The Plan Sponsor University, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, January 2019 (Panelist)
  • “Mergers and Acquisitions – Tips, Tricks and Traps,” ASPPA Annual Conference, National Harbor, MD, October 2018 (Speaker)
  • “Mergers, Acquisitions & Spinoffs – A Focus on Defined Benefit Plans,” ASPPA Annual Conference, National Harbor, MD, October 2018 (Speaker)
  • “Employee Benefits Breakfast Briefing,” San Francisco, CA, May 1, 2018 (Speaker)
  • “Hiding in Plain View: Impact of Recent Tax Legislation on Retirement Plans,” Webinar, March 14, 2018 (Speaker)
  • “The recent finalization of regulations governing disability claims procedures,” Webinar, March 7, 2018 (Speaker)
  • “Employee Benefits Breakfast Briefing,” San Francisco, CA, April 5, 2017 (Speaker)
  • “Form 5500 Errors: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid IRS Scrutiny,” ASPPA Annual Conference, National Harbor, Maryland, October 2016 (Facilitator)
  • “Nondiscrimination Testing for Defined Contribution Plans,” PNW ISCEBS workshop, Seattle, Washington, October 2016 (Speaker)
  • “Nondiscrimination Testing for Defined Contribution Plans,” PNW ISCEBS workshop, Portland, Oregon, October 2016 (Speaker)
  • “The ACA and New Trends in Health and Welfare Plan Design” and “Wellness Programs and Strategies Under the New Regulations,” Western Benefits Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, July 2014 (Moderator)
  • “Thorns in Your Administrative Side” and “Ask the Experts,” Denver Benefits Summit, Denver, Colorado, April 2014 (Panelist)

Publications

  • “Final Regulations Permitting Use of Forfeitures to Fund ADP Test Safe Harbor, Qualified Matching and Qualified Nonelective Contributions Fall Short of Restoring the Status Quo – and Leave Several Unanswered Questions for Plan Sponsors,” ASPPA asap, Issue No. 18-11
  • “Congressional Budget Deal Resurrects and Adds Tax Law Changes for Retirement Plans?” Journal of Compensation & Benefits, Vol.34, No. 3, May/June 2018 (Coauthor)
  • “The Final Rule and Disability Claims Procedures: Are You Ready? Do You Have to Be?” Journal of Compensation & Benefits, Vol.34, No. 2, March/April 2018 (Coauthor)
  • “Congressional Budget Deal Resurrects and Adds Tax Law Changes for Retirement Plans,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Law Alert, March 2, 2018 (Coauthor)
  • “Legislation Adds Significant New Tax on Exempt Organizations’ Executive Compensation,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Law Alert, January 24, 2018 (Coauthor)
  • “Full Speed Ahead: Changes to Disability Claims Procedure Regulation Take Effect April 1,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Law Alert, January 11, 2018
  • “Warning! Increased Costs Ahead: IRS Issues Final Rule and Other Guidance on Mortality Tables for Defined Benefit Plans,” Nixon Peabody Benefits Law Alert, October 23, 2017
  • “Breaking News: Department of Labor Proposes to Delay Application of Rules for Disability Claims Procedures—Now What?” Nixon Peabody Benefits Law Alert, October 11, 2017 (Coauthor)
  • “The Final Rule and Disability Claims Procedures: Are You Ready? Do You Have to Be?” Nixon Peabody Benefits Law Alert, October 3, 2017 (Coauthor)
  • “Proposed Regulations Permit Use of Forfeitures to Fund ADP Test Safe Harbor, Qualified Matching, and Qualified Nonelective Contributions,” ASPPA asap, Issue No. 17-04, February 24, 2017
  • “Developments in Employee Benefits Law: Same-Sex Marriage and Title VII’s Protection for LGBT Employees,” Stoel Rives World of Employment Blog, January 2016 (Coauthor)

The Delayed Final Rule and Disability Claims Procedures: Are You Ready? Do You Have to Be?

Journal of Compensation and Benefits | March 20, 2018

Labor and employment associates Claire Rowland and Jenny Holmes authored this article about key changes and impact of the U.S. Department of Labor’s updated regulations for required disability claims procedures (Final Rule) going into effect on April 1, 2018.

Contact

Claire P. Rowland

Associate

San Francisco

Phone: 415-984-8338


Fax: 844-581-0012

University of Denver Sturm College of Law, J.D., with highest honors; Recipient, Scholastic Excellence Awards, Lawyering Process, Advanced Legal Research, Administrative Law, Bankruptcy Law

University of Maryland, B.A., cum laude, American History

Colorado

Washington

  • Member (2015–present), Government Affairs Committee, American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries
  • Member (2010–present), University of Denver Sturm College of Law Alumni Council
  • Board Member (2013–2015), Chair, Communications Committee (2014–2015), Western Pension & Benefits Council, Denver Chapter
  • Alumni Council Liaison (2012–2015), University of Denver Law GOLD (formerly Recent Alumni Hub)
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