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Groom Law Group

Washington, DC

Groom Law Group - Washington, DC
  • 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
  • Washington, DC
  • District of Columbia
  • USA
  • 20006-5811
  • Managing Partner: John F McGuiness
  • FirmChair:   Stephen M Saxon
  • Number of principals: 35
  • Number of other lawyers: 31

Firm Overview:
Groom Law Group, Chartered has been at the forefront of developments in the nation’s employee benefits laws since Congress passed ERISA in 1974, drawing many of its attorneys from the federal agencies that regulate employee benefits and forging strong ties with key players in all three branches of government. With nearly seventy attorneys dedicated to the employee benefits practice, Groom offers clients unparalleled coverage of issues and disputes arising from ERISA, the Tax Code, securities laws, HIPAA, COBRA, ADEA, and the many other laws that govern employee benefits. Working in nine different practice groups, Groom’s attorneys build upon their diverse backgrounds to share a common understanding of employee benefits law that enables them to integrate their efforts across areas of specialization to produce the best results for their clients. The firm prides itself on offering state-of-the-art advice on best practices and emerging trends in employee benefits to a diverse group of clients across the country. Groom emphasizes a team approach to clients that assures responsive and efficient service.

Main Areas of Practice:  

Executive Compensation: Executive compensation practices have recently received unprecedented attention from the media, corporate shareholders, Congress, the IRS, and the SEC. The attorneys in Groom’s Executive Compensation Group navigate this highly charged climate for clients, helping them to design and implement executive compensation arrangements that satisfy corporate objectives while holding up under the scrutiny of federal regulatory agencies.

Fiduciary Responsibility: From the first regulations and exemptions issued by the Department of Labor to issues seen in today’s news, the attorneys in the Fiduciary Responsibility Group have helped to shape every major administrative initiative related to ERISA’s fiduciary responsibility provisions. Their long-standing relationships with senior policy-makers at the Department of Labor enable them to provide state-of-the-art advice and effective advocacy for Fortune 100 plan sponsors and major players throughout the community of plan service providers. This experience allows them to effectively represent clients with respect to DOL and IRS audits and investigations.

Governmental Plans: Governmental plans are some of the largest plans in the nation, and while exempt from ERISA and significant parts of the Internal Revenue Code, they are subject to state or local law and special rules under the Internal Revenue Code. The firm represents many state and local plans of all types, including Code 401(a), Code 403(b) and Code 457 plans.

Health & Welfare: The attorneys in Groom’s Health and Welfare Group are regularly called upon to advise and provide planning assistance to employers, trustees, administrators, boards of directors and other plan fiduciaries and professionals on a wide variety of ERISA and tax issues.The group is playing a major role helping clients meet the challenges posed by the massive new federal healthcare reform legislation.The firm provides an array of services to managed care organizations, insurance companies, benefit funds, trade associations, benefits consulting firms, and others on a broad range of health and welfare matters. Litigation: Groom’s Litigation Group handles benefits-related controversies ranging from routine claims disputes and federal agency investigations to ESOP litigation to complex class action and multi-district litigation for plan sponsors, financial institutions, managed care organizations, service providers, trade associations, plan fiduciaries and other clients across the country.

Multiemployer/Taft-Hartley Plans: Groom’s attorneys have been working on multiemployer plan issues since before the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 was passed. Since then, the firm has continued to focus on multiemployer plan issues, representing both multiemployer pension and welfare plans, as well as contributing employers, with respect to issues such as plan funding, fiduciary compliance, mass withdrawal, insolvency, and compliance with ‘endangered’ and ‘critical’ status requirements.

Plan Design & Taxation: Groom’s Plan Design and Taxation Group has earned a national reputation for its expertise in the creation and operation of all forms of employee benefit programs. Drawing on decades of experience, the attorneys on this team work with Fortune 100 companies, associations, government entities, churches, and financial institutions to design and maintain plans that adhere to regulatory standards and evolve to meet the needs of their sponsors.

Plan Funding & Restructuring: Drawing on their unparalleled experience and longstanding relationships with key federal agencies, Groom’s Plan Funding and Restructuring Group negotiates and litigates benefits issues and provides creative, forward-looking advice on pension and health liabilities to clients involved in corporate transactions, bankruptcies, and restructurings outside bankruptcy.

Policy & Legislation: Drawing on their substantive expertise and hands-on experience – one member of the firm’s group was the tax and pension counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee and another was the chief legislative liaison for the Department of Labor – Groom works on benefits-related policies and legislation with members of Congress and the Executive Branch on behalf of trade associations, plan sponsors, financial institutions, healthcare organizations, and other clients from the benefits community. Clients: Representative

American Benefits Council, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, California State Teachers Retirement System, Eli Lilly, Hess Corporation, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Pfizer, Prudential Financial, Toshiba America.

Areas of Practice

  • Executive Compensation
  • Fiduciary Responsibility
  • Health & Welfare
  • Litigation
  • Plan Design & Taxation
  • Plan Funding & Restructuring
  • Policy & Legislation
  • Public & Multiemployer Plans
  • Governmental Plans
  • Multiemployer/Taft-Hartley Plans


  • 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
  • Washington, DC,
  • District of Columbia
  • USA
  • 20006-5811
  • Tel +1 202 857 0620
  • Fax +1 202 659 4503
  • Email : info@groom.com
  • Website : www.groom.com

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - District of Columbia

What the team is known for Weighty employee benefits-focused boutique, dealing with complex benefits and tax for finance, public sector and pension services industries. Numerous subspecialty practice groups providing substantive expertise across the spectrum, including fiduciary responsibility, health and welfare, and multiemployer/Taft-Hartley plans.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"Groom has been spectacular from day one! They tell us the law and help us assess practical business solutions. They work very hard to understand who our business partners are and their personalities, and what they need from us. No cookie-cutter answers."

"They do exceptional work and are careful with the billing."

Work highlights Retained by various fiduciaries of Fortune 100 companies and significant Taft-Hartley Funds as outside counsel on ERISA and alternative investment vehicle considerations. 

Continues to advise numerous large private pension plan clients through all manner of cutting-edge transformation, preservation and derisking plans, including IRS compliance, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) funding and termination matters.

Notable practitioners  

Gary Ford continues to excel in litigation, planning and advice, particularly in bankruptcy contexts, capitalizing on his experience as former ERISA counsel to the Senate committee on labor and human resources, and former general counsel of the PBGC. He is well regarded by peers across the board, and one interviewee hails him as "the best ERISA lawyer I have ever met."

Louis Mazawey remains focused on the tax side of employee benefits, with clients commenting: "The level of expertise and ease in dealing with him is superlative." His considerable range of experience encompasses all aspects of benefit and compensation plans, from 403(b) and 457 plans, through IRAs and life insurance and annuity considerations. 

David Levine concentrates his tax and benefits expertise in the field of qualified, nonqualified and tax-exempt retirement programs. One sources attests: "He is terrific. We really appreciate his assistance, and relationships with regulatory agencies, which are critical in what we do. He gives us and our board very good guidance all the time."

Andrée St Martin has particular expertise in fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction work falling under Title I of ERISA. Her chief competencies include contract negotiation, investment structuring and obtaining prohibited transaction DOL exemptions. Market observers describe her as "knowledgeable, responsive, thorough and practical."

Head of the executive compensation group, John McGuiness has numerous areas of subspecialty savvy, including performance-based compensation, rabbi trusts, Sarbanes-Oxley issues and 409A deferred compensation rules. In addition to being a prolific writer and speaker, he too garners client praise for his "superlative level of expertise."

Healthcare - District of Columbia

This firm is classed as a "Other Noted Firm".

Other Noted Firms are firms that are active in this practice area but have not yet been ranked.

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - Nationwide

Basic facts about the department
Key office is Washington, DC.

What the team is known for Substantial expertise in a broad range of employee benefits and ERISA matters, including advising on fiduciary disclosure requirements, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and 410(k) plans. Experienced in guiding clients through dealings with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and IRS.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"A main competitor for employee benefits work." 

"A top firm in respect of their pensions work." 

Work highlights Retained by numerous large private pension plans and Fortune 500s to advise on a range of matters including preservation, transformation, de-risking and termination issues.

Continued to act at the forefront of church-plan matters, serving church-related bodies in ERISA advisory and litigation defense capacities.

Notable practitioners  

A former ERISA counsel to the Senate Committee on labor and human resources, Gary Ford retains extensive knowledge of fiduciary pension and ERISA matters. He is much admired by his peers in this market and is praised by clients for his skill in PBGC matters and for being "knowledgeable, responsive and creative."

Leader of the plan design and taxation practice, Louis Mazawey is admired by sources for his business acumen and vast experience in the field of employee benefits. One impressed client is quick to praise his "strong expertise and deep subject matter knowledge, and the real effort made to understand our plans and intent."

Significant clients Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Pfizer, Prudential Financial, Target, Toshiba America.

ERISA Litigation - Nationwide

Basic facts about the department
Key office is Washington, DC.

What the team is known for Provides a deep bench of skilled practitioners, well equipped to handle the complete spectrum of ERISA-related litigation. ESOP matters remain an area of particular expertise, alongside breach of fiduciary duty, cash balance, retiree health and church plan cases.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They are extremely responsive: whenever I need them they are available."  

"We're really pleased. What they do well is assess the situation and assemble the right team for day-to-day work, as well as the right consultants and experts." 

Work highlights Represented Catholic Health in class action litigation, involving a question of whether certain plans fit the criteria for church plans and consequently are exempt from ERISA provisions.

Defended Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Recruitment Plan against claims brought by former NFL players regarding disability and retirement benefits.

Notable practitioners  

Michael Prame is well liked by commentators, who describe him as the "complete package," highlighting that he is "an excellent litigator and business attorney" who offers a "broad range of experience, but still understands the details and is strategic." He is well versed in ERISA compliance issues.

According to sources, Lars Golumbic "understands the moves to make and when to put the heat on." His broad ERISA experience includes acting for companies and trustees in an array of litigation and compliance matters. Interviewees particularly admire his practical and creative approach.

Edward Scallet is a "strategic and tactical thinker," who receives plaudits for his "ability to take complex issues and tasks and explain them in plain English for people to understand." He has developed substantial skill across the spectrum of ERISA-related matters, including stock drops, ESOPs and the fiduciary duty to disclose. 

Significant clients American Airlines, Regions Bank, Paychex, Kodak, Wilmington Trust.