Julie Stapel provides effective and practical solutions to clients’ complex ERISA issues. She proficiently steers plan sponsors and investment managers through ERISA’s fiduciary and prohibited transaction rules, and negotiates virtually every type of investment-related agreement with employee benefit plans. Julie uses exceptional communication and interpersonal skills to advise clients on a wide range of ERISA topics, including effective fiduciary governance, risk management, the creation of “white label” investment options, and the application of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in plan investment decisionmaking.
Julie is also part of the firm’s industry-leading structured transactions practice, applying ERISA’s fiduciary and prohibited transaction rules to structuring and offering asset-backed and mortgage-backed securities and collateralized loan obligations. ERISA-governed investors are an integral part of the market for structured transactions. Julie brings the specialized ERISA knowledge to these transactions that allow them to be effectively marketed and sold to ERISA-governed investors.
Leader of the firm’s Fiduciary Duty Task Force, Julie also advises on fiduciary governance, including the formation and operation of benefit plan fiduciary committees.
She works with plan fiduciaries to implement ERISA compliance best practices and manage fiduciary risks. She also helps clients remain in compliance with ERISA’s ever-changing reporting and disclosure obligations.
Julie speaks frequently on ERISA-related topics. She has spoken before the Committee on the Investment of Employee Benefit Assets (CIEBA), the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), the John Marshall School of Law, and at various events sponsored by Pension and Investments magazine. In addition to these speaking engagements, she regularly addresses client fiduciary committees and investment staff, performing fiduciary training and presenting updates on changes in the law.
Julie is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, a trustee of the Merit School of Music, and a member of Women Investment Professionals (WIP). She is also a past president of the Chicago Chapter of Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB).
Prior to joining Morgan Lewis, she was a partner in the employee benefits and executive compensation department of an international law firm, resident in Chicago. Before that, she served as general counsel to a registered investment adviser, gaining experience with ERISA and its impact on investment managers and collective investment funds.
For a diversified financial services provider, negotiating all ERISA-related contracts in its various business lines and advising on overall fiduciary governance and compliance.
For two different large manufacturing companies, drafting and negotiating all legal documentation for customized “white label” investment options to offer on their respective 401(k) plan menus, including developing compliant and practical participant disclosures for those investment options.
For several Fortune 100 companies, negotiating all pension plan investments in hedge funds and private equity funds.
For numerous banks, developing an industry-leading legal opinion addressing a novel topic under Title IV of ERISA.
Indiana University School of Law, 1996, J.D., Magna Cum Laude
University of Michigan, 1992, B.A.
Clerkship to the Court of Appeals of Maryland (1996)
Awards and Affiliations
Ranked, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, Illinois, Chambers USA (2021)
Lawyer of the Year, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, Chicago, The Best Lawyers in America (2020)
Member, Law Firm of the Year, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, Chambers USA (2019)
Member, Law Firm of the Year, Employee Benefits (ERISA Law), US News/Best Lawyers – Best Law Firms (2019)
Chicago’s Notable Women Lawyers, Crain’s Custom Media (2018)
Member, Economic Club of Chicago
Trustee, Merit School of Music
Past president, Chicago Chapter of Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB)