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 and the application of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in plan investment decision-making.
Julie helps clients negotiate investment-related agreements of virtually every type, including investment management, trust, securities lending and transition management agreements, as well as many different types of trading agreements. She represents employee benefit plan investors in all types of private fund investments, negotiating fund documentation and side letters to address ERISA and other risk management issues. She also counsels financial services and investment management clients on ERISA compliance.
Co-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. She is also 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 departments 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 large municipal defined contribution plan, negotiating a comprehensive administrative service provider relationship and stable value investment management relationship, including the negotiation of provisions relating to unique requirements of the municipal law applicable to the defined contribution plan.
For a publicly traded aerospace and defense company, conducting a detailed review of their plan documents, trust documents, board resolutions, and committee charters to identify ambiguous, overlapping, or inconsistent roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in the governance structure. As a result of that review, the client revised its documents to better reflect current operations and also overhauled its governance structure to reflect both current practices as well as to improve risk management in light of recent litigation and regulatory developments.
For a leading building materials manufacturer, drafting and negotiating policies and procedures in connection with a comprehensive fiduciary outsourcing of defined benefit plan investment responsibility to a third-party provider, including detailed processes for the interface between the third-party provider and benefit investment personnel at the client.
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
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)
President, Chicago Chapter of Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB)