(September 10, 2018, Washington, DC) — Steptoe & Johnson LLP is pleased to announce that Sara Pikofsky has joined the firm’s top-ranked Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Litigation practice as a partner. Pikofsky brings a distinguished career in private practice as an ERISA litigator and as a trial attorney at the US Department of Labor (DOL). Pikofsky's arrival continues the expansion of the firm’s Employee Benefits and ERISA Group, which recently welcomed former Treasury Department counsel Bill Bortz as senior counsel.
Pikofsky has extensive experience with all phases of litigation, focusing on violations of ERISA's fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction provisions, as well as defending employers in withdrawal liability disputes. She also advises clients regarding withdrawal liability risks related to transactions. Her experience covers matters at the trial and appellate levels, including numerous appellate arguments. Pikofsky's practice also includes advising clients with respect to DOL investigations and on compliance with ERISA's plan asset rules.
Before entering private practice, Pikofsky spent nearly five years as a trial attorney in the DOL's Office of the Solicitor in the plan benefits security division. In that capacity, she gained significant litigation experience in matters involving pension and welfare plans, including breach of fiduciary duty claims relating to investments in securities and real estate, among others.
Bortz, who practices in Steptoe's ERISA and Tax Groups, brings more than four decades of experience in both advising clients on employee benefits matters and working at Treasury on legislative, regulatory, and advisory matters related to ERISA law. His private practice experience from 1974-1995 at the former Dewey Ballantine included representing public, private, and charitable entities on federal tax and labor issues, including tax qualified retirement plans, deferred compensation plans and health care issues. During his tenure as associate benefits tax counsel at Treasury, Bortz was instrumental in shaping regulations and other guidance related to tax and ERISA law, as well as the legislative development of those laws.
Bortz has served an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore Law School and Georgetown Law School.
Pikofsky and Bortz are both fellows of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, which also counts as fellows Steptoe partners Paul Ondrasik, Melanie Nussdorf, Joni Andrioff and Eric Serron.
"Sara and Bill add great depth to our Employee Benefits and ERISA Group, as well as our preeminent counseling and DOL investigations practice," said Steptoe Chair Phil West. "Sara is a first-chair litigator with experience in both private practice and at the Labor Department. Bill, who is my former Treasury colleague, also brings both private practice and government experience, and will provide our team with a deeper understanding of the practical and business aspects of employee benefits and ERISA."
At Steptoe, Pikofsky, who has been recognized in Chambers and The Legal 500, joins an ERISA Group well known for the ability to solve clients' problems in all types of ERISA matters, whether in court, before government agencies, or as advisors. The group has long been recognized as one of the best in the nation and consistently receives top-tier rankings from Chambers USA and The Legal 500, which has described the team as "the 'go-to' ERISA firm." Ondrasik, Nussdorf and Serron have each been recognized as "Leading Lawyers" by The Legal 500, and Ondrasik and Nussdorf have also been elevated to "Hall of Fame" status.
Paul Ondrasik, leader of Steptoe's ERISA Group, commented: "We are extremely pleased to have another Chambers-ranked ERISA litigator join our team. With Sara's addition, no firm can match our experience and bench strength to handle high-profile ERISA class actions and DOL investigations."
Pikofsky added: "Paul and Melanie are legendary in the ERISA and employee benefits area. I have long admired them and am delighted by this opportunity to work alongside them and the other members of Steptoe's team. I am particularly looking forward to diving into a wide variety of matters with them given the team's large and diverse caseload."
Pikofsky received her B.A. from McGill University and her J.D. from Columbia University. She clerked for the Honorable Thomas Wiseman, Jr. of the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Bortz holds a law degree and Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland.
In more than 100 years of practice, Steptoe has earned an international reputation for vigorous representation of clients before governmental agencies, successful advocacy in litigation and arbitration, and creative and practical advice in structuring business transactions. Steptoe has more than 500 lawyers and other professional staff across offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington. For more information, visit www.steptoe.com.