Brian L. Gaj
Brian is senior counsel in the firm's Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation practice group. He has more than 25 years of experience advising clients on all aspects of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), including defined benefit plans, multiemployer plans, 401(k) plans and fiduciary duties. Brian represents large corporations, delivering proactive, practical guidance to satisfy clients' business objectives and compliance obligations.
Following law school, he worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Albert J. Engel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Brian is admitted to practice in Michigan and Ohio.
Career highlights include the following:
- Negotiated with IRS National Office to obtain favorable IRS determination letter for cash balance plan without conceding on $60 million issue
- Provided litigation support and analysis for lump sum defined benefit plan litigation, which litigator valued at $10 million
- Reviewed and negotiated side letters for $100s of millions of private equity fund investments by ERISA pension plans, including comments that led to restructuring of funds to address ERISA concerns
- Advised large financial institution on ERISA provisions of ISDA, foreign exchange, and forward transaction agreements
- Assisted freight service company in “bet-the-company” representation of multiemployer withdrawal liability assessment, including filing appeal and arbitration and obtaining settlement that kept company in business
- Extraordinary service and judgment for every day matters, including: (i) drafting pension and 401(k) plan documents, summary plan descriptions, participant communications and claim denials, (ii) preparing regulatory submissions including IRS determination letter filings, private letter ruling requests, and EPCRS submissions, (iii) counseling on pension and 401(k) plan corrections, (v) advising on fiduciary and prohibited transaction matters, and (iv) counseling clients on Internal Revenue Code and ERISA aspects of employer stock contributions to defined benefit plans, lump sum windows and de-risking pension investments.
- “DOL Issues Much-Anticipated Retirement Plan Cybersecurity Guidance,” Thompson Hine Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Update, April 2021
- “American Rescue Plan Act: Impact on Employers and Employees,” Thompson Hine COVID-19 Update, March 10, 2021
- “DOL Prohibited Transaction Exemption for Participant Investment Advice Passes Review,” Thompson Hine Employee Benefits Update, February 2021
- “What’s Old Is New Again: DOL Reinterprets Five-Part Investment Advice Test,” Thompson Hine Employee Benefits Update, February 2021
- Presenter, "ERISA Update for Investment Advisers and Fund Managers," Thompson Hine Investment Management Coffee Chat webinar series, January 2022
- American Bar Association