40 Years of Experience

Our Expertise

Brucker & Morra, located in Los Angeles, is Southern California’s largest law firm exclusively practicing pension and employee benefits law (ERISA). We are experts in advising publicly and privately owned businesses, non-profit charities and executives on the full range of legal issues which may arise from pension, 401(k), ESOP and other employee benefit matters.

When problems arise from the operation of employee benefit plans, employee claims against a plan or its fiduciaries, or IRS or DOL investigations, we provide the intelligent and practical solutions that maximize results and minimize liabilities. Additionally, we work diligently with our clients to assure that their plans are updated as employee benefit laws change.

While all client communications are held in strict confidence within the firm, all of Brucker & Morra’s attorneys share ideas and strategies in order to provide the best results for our clients. When you retain one attorney at Brucker & Morra, you get the creative resources of the entire firm!

We concentrate our practice on the following pension and employee benefits (ERISA) areas and related cross-over areas:

401(k) Plans and Profit Sharing Plans

Brucker & Morra advises businesses and business owners on designing, writing, and implementing 401(k) and profit sharing plans. We also counsel businesses and business owners on the legal aspects and consequences of: 401(k) and profit sharing plan compliance; operations and fiduciary liability, including plan interpretation and amendments; employee notices and claims; plan termination; and benefit distribution.

Brucker & Morra’s plan documents are nationally respected and recognized such that they are licensed to McKay Hochman (DST Systems, Inc.), and used by third-party administration firms across the nation.

See our IRS and DOL controversy expertiseand our Fiduciary Counsel discussed below.

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Defined Benefit Plans, Money Purchase Pension Plans and Cash Balance Pension Plans

The laws surrounding defined benefit pension plans are very complex, and non-compliance can result in significant employer liability. These forms of pension plans are based on and driven by an employer’s contractual promises. Attorneys at Brucker & Morra are experts in the design, operation, implementation, and fiduciary issues related to defined benefit and cash balance pension plans. We take care to inform and educate businesses about the potential liabilities regarding these plans.

Brucker & Morra advises businesses and business owners on designing, writing, and implementing Defined Benefit and Cash Balance Pension Plans. We implement plan features that will reduce plan costs and future liabilities, and comply with ever-changing ERISA legislative and regulatory requirements, including the Pension Protection Act of 2006. We also counsel businesses and business owners on the legal aspects and consequences of pension plan compliance, operations and fiduciary liability, including plan interpretation and amendments, employee notices and claims, plan termination, and benefit distribution.

See our IRS and DOL controversy expertise and our Fiduciary Counsel discussed below.

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Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) — Business Restructuring and Succession

Brucker & Morra advises businesses and business owners on designing, writing, and implementing ESOPs — employee stock ownership plans. We appreciate the intricacies of employee stock ownership issues and the fiduciary requirements necessary to implement and maintain ESOPs, and advise our clients accordingly.
We provide a full range of services to our ESOP clients nationwide including:

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Non-Profit and Governmental Pension, 403(b), 457 and Welfare Benefit Plans

The laws surrounding non-profit and governmental employee benefit plans are very complex, and non-compliance can result in significant liability.

Brucker & Morra advises non-profit organizations on designing, writing, and implementing pension, 403(b), 457, executive compensation and welfare benefit plans and trusts. We also provide counsel on the legal aspects and consequences of these programs including compliance, operations and fiduciary liability, plan amendments, employee notices and claims, plan termination, and benefit distribution.

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Due Diligence Review for Mergers, Acquisitions and Business Transactions

Corporate mergers, acquisitions and spinoffs can create complex employee benefit issues. Our familiarity with plan provisions and operations gives us command of both the practical and technical issues related to transactions, and to the complications that can arise following the closing of a merger or acquisition.

We have extensive experience performing due diligence for mergers and acquisitions and can provide the following services:

If we discover plan-compliance issues, we will negotiate holdbacks or escrows, and develop creative solutions for corrections, including the use of IRS and DOL programs.

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Due Diligence Review of Employer-Sponsored Pension and Employee Benefit Plans

A significant majority of pension and employee benefit plans have never been reviewed by legal counsel experienced in benefits or ERISA. Brucker & Morra believes that every pension and welfare benefit plan requires a periodic, thorough legal review of its operations and documentation to ensure that the plan meets all IRS and DOL requirements.

Brucker & Morra will perform a full review of an employer-sponsored plan, and present a report of the plan’s document and operational compliance. Such report would be based on a review of:

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Creditor Protection of Pension Benefits in Bankruptcy and from Creditor Claims

We counsel clients who have filed for bankruptcy protection or who have creditor protection concerns, providing advice about legal protection under ERISA and California law. Additionally, we provide advice to insure that retirement benefits and plans are protected against creditor attacks.

We counsel bankruptcy trustees and their attorneys on their ERISA fiduciary responsibilities to protect and deliver participant benefits and to maintain the integrity of their plans.

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IRS Employee Plan Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), DOL Voluntary Fiduciary Compliance Program (VFCP), and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP)

Brucker & Morra excels at repairing administrative, operational and document-related violations pertaining to 401(k) profit sharing and pension plans. The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor offer various compliance correction programs to help plan sponsors avoid significant penalties for non-compliance. Our knowledge and experience in these government programs enable us to fashion and advocate for creative solutions. We are dedicated to preparing correction-program submissions and negotiating reduced penalties and/or correction methodologies. The various IRS and DOL correction programs include:

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IRS, DOL, and PBGC Controversies, Litigation, and Resolution

The Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor EBSA (Employee Benefit Service Administration) and the PGBC (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation) each have jurisdiction over the operations of pension and retirement plans. Each government agency has its own mission and objective:

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Marital Dissolutions, Divisions of Benefits, and QDROs (Qualified Domestic Relations Orders)

Brucker & Morra counsels clients and their family lawyers on employee benefits that may be considered community property in marital separation or divorce cases. We advise on the relationship between community property law and federal employee benefits law, and draft or review provisions of judgments or marital settlement agreements and qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). We provide expert testimony to bolster our clients’ positions on the division of employee benefits. We also counsel clients and their lawyers regarding property and retirement benefit protection prior to and during marriages. We draft the proper provisions for pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements to protect retirement plan benefits earned prior to and after marriage.

Family lawyers in California are invited to read about current employee benefits news that pertains to domestic relations matters here.

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Executive Compensation and Nonqualified Deferred Arrangements (409A)

Brucker & Morra provides advice on a full range of executive compensation issues, including non-qualified deferred-compensation arrangements and top-hat plans. We help clients implement and operate deferred compensation plans that are not tax qualified, but which meet the comprehensive requirements imposed upon deferred compensation by Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code. These plans generally fall into two categories:

We create such plans as limited-benefit programs or as part of executive contractual arrangements, and coordinate them with the client’s tax-qualified retirement plans.

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ERISA Fiduciary Counsel for Businesses, Trustees and Investment Managers

Plan fiduciaries — trustees, plan administrators, benefit and investment committees, company officers and directors — are governed by strict and complex ERISA rules and Department of Labor regulations. Brucker & Morra help our clients administer proper corporate and plan governance and comply with fiduciary requirements for plan investments and administration.

We advise on legal issues related to:

Our objectives are to help our clients fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, serve their employees, and avoid litigation and other claims. As a law firm focusing exclusively on employee benefits, we bring our extensive experience in ERISA compliance and ERISA litigation to every consulting situation.

Our clients in the area of fiduciary consulting include:

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Benefits Litigation Support, Co-Counsel and Expert Witness

Benefits litigation is complicated by the fact that most trial lawyers are not experts in ERISA matters. Brucker & Morra bridges this gap by providing its vast experience and expertise to trial lawyers in the capacity of technical support, associated co-counsel or expert witness. Brucker & Morra assist trial lawyers in preparing briefs, declarations and court-required reports on a variety of ERISA-fiduciary and benefits-tax issues. Linda Morra and Alex Brucker are highly qualified and experienced expert witnesses.

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Health and Welfare Benefit Plans; COBRA and HIPPA Compliance

Brucker & Morra is experienced in helping clients understand and implement the laws and regulations that govern health, welfare, and fringe benefit plans, including:

We advise our clients on:

We are available to draft summary plan descriptions and trust agreements, design and restate plans, and to prepare and review employee communications.

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Our Attorneys