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Employee Benefits & ERISA

Tax & Wealth Management

At Walter Haverfield, our employee benefits and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) attorneys skillfully recognize the design, structure, implementation, administration, and termination of types of retirement, executive compensation, and health and welfare benefit plans.

By using a full-service, multi-disciplinary approach, our team effectively and efficiently help clients faced with tax, ERISA and other issues stemming from employee benefits matters.

Practice Group Leader

Gary A. Zwick, Partner

Gary is a partner who has a general tax practice, with emphasis on tax planning for closely held and family businesses and their owners, and high-net-worth individuals. His focus encompasses not only income tax planning, but also estate planning, retirement plans and planning, business and individual taxation, Subchapters C & S, mergers and acquisitions, employee benefits and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and tax court practice and controversy work.

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Our Employee Benefits & ERISA Difference

Walter Haverfield has broad experience in the area of employee benefit plans and ERISA. Our representation includes plan design, creation, amendments, termination, IRS and ERISA compliance, and inquiries and audits by the IRS and the Department of Labor.

To complement our full-service approach, Walter Haverfield’s established litigation team represents plans, corporations, and their insurers in ERISA cases. With a selective approach to litigating these types of claims, we focus on matters ranging from individual issues to issues presented as class actions.

Together, we represent:

  • Major corporations
  • Multi-employer pension, welfare, benefit plans
  • Regional manufacturers
  • Professional service corporations and their insurers
  • Pension plans
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Employee stock ownership (ESOP) plans
  • Employee stock bonus plans and executive “top hat” plans
  • 403(b) annuity plans, 457(b) and (f) plans
  • Welfare (health/life/disability/vacation) plans
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs and SEPs)
  • “Rabbi” and secular trusts for a large variety of corporate, institutional, governmental, and individual clients


Our attorneys in our Cleveland and Columbus offices are consistently ranked and recognized by Best Lawyers®, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and more. At Walter Haverfield, we pride ourselves on becoming each client’s trusted advisor for all their tax and wealth needs.


  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Banking and Finance Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Commercial Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Litigation – Real Estate
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Litigation – Trust & Estates
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Real Estate Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Tax Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Construction Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Litigation – Environmental
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Litigation – Construction
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Litigation – ERISA


  • National Tier 2: Land Use & Zoning Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Environmental Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Land Use & Zoning Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Land Use & Zoning Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Real Estate Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Real Estate Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Banking and Finance Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Construction Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Environmental Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Construction Litigation


  • Consulting on qualified plan design, including defined benefit/defined contribution combinations
  • Drafting and implementing individually designed qualified plans
  • Handling qualified plan audits and interface with IRS to obtain qualification letters for the plans
  • Designing and implementing VEBAs for larger employers and assisting small employers with employee benefit plans
  • Designing, drafting, and implementing non-qualified deferred compensation, stock options, restricted stock plans
  • Implementing IRA and other retirement strategies
  • Advising clients on specific tax and ERISA compliance issues
  • Providing due diligence to clients in mergers and acquisitions
  • Managing audits of qualified plans that raise numerous complex issues
  • Assisting municipalities with issues that surrounded their Section 457 plans’ compliance with the current rules
  • Preparing and submitting numerous VCP filings involving many complex and novel errors, and successfully negotiated compliance statements with the IRS
  • Assisting clients in implementing the corrections required under compliance statements issued by the IRS
  • Representing a tax-exempt entity in the spin-off of its employees’ pension benefits from a multiple employer pension plan to a single employer plan
  • Advising clients with respect to plan terminations, and, with respect to defined benefit plans, annuity purchases
  • Revising corporate-sponsored prototype plans to meet new federal legislation requirements
  • Defending claims of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, self-dealing, denial of benefits, and benefits discrimination
  • Representation of client on release of funds from a pension fund where trustee refused to acknowledge client as the beneficiary of the funds at issue