Press Release

Morgan Lewis Boosts Coast-to-Coast Employee Benefits Services with Three New Partners

January 03, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC, and SANTA MONICA, January 3, 2017: Morgan Lewis today welcomed three partners who will enhance and deepen the firm’s employee benefits and executive compensation services for clients:  Rosina Barker and Jonathan Zimmerman, who will practice in the Washington, DC, office; and Steven Witmer, who will practice in the Santa Monica, California, office. All three incoming partners focus on employee benefits, executive compensation, and tax issues for corporations and executive-level individuals.

Ms. Barker, Mr. Zimmerman, and Mr. Witmer assist clients with their qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, fiduciary and investment matters, and employment tax and worker classification issues. They advise on complex executive compensation matters and on the benefits and compensation issues arising in mergers and acquisitions, dispositions, and other business transactions.

“I am delighted to welcome our new partners, who offer our clients remarkable depth encompassing a wide range of areas affecting employee benefits,” said Firm Chair Jami McKeon. “Rosina, Jonathan, and Steve will work closely with our strong employee benefits team across the United States to provide our clients with the advice they need in this continually evolving arena.”

Rosina Barker provides counseling on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), tax, and securities law aspects of executive compensation and employee benefit plans. Her broad practice includes sophisticated defined benefit pension plan issues, fiduciary counseling, and complex executive compensation matters. In the last 12 months alone, Ms. Barker has advised clients on the executive compensation and employee benefit plan issues arising from corporate transactions totaling more than $13 billion. Her practice is enhanced by her government service on the tax staff of the US House Ways & Means Committee, where she had primary staff responsibility for all pension and employee benefit legislation. Ms. Barker is a fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.

Jonathan Zimmerman has a broad-based practice with a concentration on executive compensation, qualified retirement plans, and health and welfare plans. He also advises clients on payroll, withholding, and fringe benefits matters, and has handled federal and state audits regarding all types of compensation. Mr. Zimmerman has led compliance reviews of some of the largest qualified plans in the United States to identify plan document and operational errors, and design reasonable correction measures to minimize future audit risk. He also has advised clients on pension annuity purchases totaling more than $1 billion.

Steven Witmer advises companies on qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and other ERISA and tax matters. He has an extensive benefits outsourcing practice, and has negotiated close to 1,000 contracts with payroll and benefits vendors on behalf of plan sponsors. He frequently advises clients on the transfer of plan assets and liabilities, and on other benefit issues arising from dispositions, spinoffs, initial public offerings, and other business transactions up to the multibillion dollar range. Mr. Witmer successfully represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, including, for example, recently obtaining a significant funding waiver estimated at more than $200 million.

“The skills and practice diversity of this premier group of lawyers—as well as the expansion of our West Coast capabilities—will mesh well with our existing strengths and further enhance our firm’s ability to assist our wide-ranging employee benefits and executive compensation clients,” said Steven Spencer, who leads the firm’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice. “Our new partners and the clients who have been served by them also will benefit greatly from working with our labor and employment, corporate and securities, and investment management lawyers.”