Russ is a partner who has focused his practice on employee benefits since 1970 with a nationwide law practice that encompasses every type of employee benefit plan. This includes retirement plans, executive deferred compensation plans, welfare benefit plans, Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBAs) plans, and 403(b) tax-deferred annuity plans. His practice also includes plan design, administration, funding methods, retirement plan qualification, prohibited transaction and fiduciary liability issues, termination of defined benefit plans, 401(k) plans, Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPs), multi-employer plans, joint apprenticeship committee programs, and public and private retiree benefits. He also advises charitable foundations and other tax-exempt organizations on tax, fiduciary, and related matters.
With his in-depth knowledge of both Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and non-ERISA benefit matters, Russ often assists the firm’s employee benefits litigation team in cases involving breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, self-dealing, denial of benefits, and benefits discrimination.
Russ has practiced before the national and regional offices of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the national district offices of the Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration. He has testified before the Senate Finance Committee on employee benefit issues and has participated in meetings sponsored by the Department of Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Labor. He was a Treasury Department Appointee to the Ad Hoc Committee on Tax Reform Act of 1986 compliance.
Prior to joining Walter Haverfield, Russ led the Employee Benefits Group of a large, corporate law firm. In the 1960s, he was a captain in the U.S. Army. He was on General Westmoreland’s legal staff while serving in Vietnam. After Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, assassination, he served on the Hollingsworth Board, which investigated the use of the National Guard and reservists in civil disturbances.
Russ enjoys lecturing on employee benefit and fiduciary liability issues to various professional and nonprofit organizations, and is an adjunct professor of law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.