Thomas M. Christina advises employers on all aspects of employee benefit plan design and operation and represents employers in benefits related individual and class action litigation in courts throughout the United States. A 1980 graduate of the Harvard Law School, he is a member of the Employee Benefits Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. From 1987 through 1989, he served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and later as an Associate Deputy Attorney General, in the U.S. Department of Justice. He has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2003-2019).
Ogletree Deakins is one of the largest labor and employment law firms in the world, representing management in all types of employment related legal matters. The firm has more than 850 lawyers located in 53 offices across North America and in Europe. For more than four decades, Ogletree Deakins has offered clients representation in every aspect of labor and employment laws, including business immigration, employee benefits and workplace safety and health as well as employment litigation and traditional labor law. The firm represents a diverse range of clients, including more than half of the Fortune 500 corporations in the United States.
Ogletree Deakins was named a “Law Firm of the Year” for the seventh consecutive year in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list. The firm is proud to have lawyers who are Fellows in the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America and “Leaders in their Field” in Chambers USA. Many of our lawyers are widely published in legal journals, newsletters, trade magazines and continuing legal education materials and frequently are asked to speak at seminars and programs throughout the country.
Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice
Ogletree Deakins has one of the largest teams of employee benefits and executive compensation practitioners in the United States. Ogletree Deakins was listed as a national “First Tier” law firm in the employee benefits (ERISA) practice area in the 2019 edition of the U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list. As part of a firm that focuses on labor and employment law, our Employee Benefits Practice Group has a special ability to relate technical expertise to the client’s “big picture” issues. Knowledge of the detailed requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and other applicable laws is our beginning, not our ending point. Our goal is to provide practical advice that allows an employer’s benefits strategy to work in harmony with the employer’s overall personnel, financial and business objectives.
Employers nationwide have come to depend on Ogletree Deakins for their employee benefits regulatory and compliance advice, both on a day-to-day basis and for unique projects involving corporate restructurings, acquisitions or benefit plan redesign. Our highly trained employee benefits practitioners provide consulting, planning and compliance advice to clients regarding employee benefits plans of all types, including both retirement plans and welfare or fringe benefit plans, sponsored by employers in the private, not-for-profit and public sectors. These include tax-qualified retirement plans, welfare and fringe benefits programs, cafeteria (Section 125) plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, severance pay plans, bonus plans, equity compensation plans and executive retirement plans.
We also advise clients on such matters as healthcare reform compliance issues, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) portability, privacy and nondiscrimination requirements; Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) continuation coverage rules, reporting and disclosure obligations to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), retirement and welfare plan nondiscrimination requirements, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary and other liability limitation arrangements and a whole range of cost containment strategies. In addition to our depth of experience with conventional group health plans, our attorneys advise clients on the development of defined contribution or consumer-directed health plan approaches, including programs that offer health savings accounts (HSAs).
New and established clients often turn to members of Ogletree Deakins’ employee benefits group to handle litigation involving employee pension or welfare benefits plans – sometimes brought on behalf of a single individual, but often brought on behalf of a class of plan participants – including claims under ERISA alleging breaches of fiduciary duties or violations of ERISA’s substantive requirements. The ERISA litigators in our practice group are an integral part of the overall benefits practice. They routinely draft plan documents and related instruments for qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, welfare plans and fringe benefit plans; advise clients regarding the employee benefits aspects of corporate mergers, acquisitions and restructurings; or counsel clients regarding other aspects of tax or regulatory compliance. Because our benefits litigators speak the language of employee benefits plan design and administration, they are able to communicate directly and effectively with the client’s human resources personnel, actuaries and other professionals to quickly recognize and marshal the facts essential to the defense.
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