Pension Suit Turns on Partner Definition

A “partner” who was denied pension benefits from her former law firm because she was not considered a shareholder will get a chance to prove she is entitled to the money.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) Wednesday that a magistrate erred in barring Karen Strom from pursuing the claim, the New York Law Journal reports.

Strom left Siegel Fenchel & Peddy of Long Island, N.Y., seven years ago to join a competing firm. Strom was denied benefits from the firm’s profit-sharing plan and cash-balance pension plans even though she had the title of “profit-sharing partner.”

Leslie Corwin of Greenberg Traurig told the legal newspaper that Strom’s damages, with interest and penalties, could exceed $1 million. “The real issue here is whether she was a partner or not,” he said. The decision recognizes that “law firms have to afford partners the same notice under ERISA that corporate America must give under its pension and profit-sharing plans.”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.