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Gary W. Howell

Chicago Office

Gary W. Howell focuses his practice in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary matters, tax-qualified retirement plans and ERISA litigation. A significant portion of Gary’s practice involves advising plans and investment managers on compliance with ERISA in managing plan assets. In this area, he provides advice on fee structures, fiduciary status, identification of plan assets, prohibited transactions and fiduciary duty. Gary has obtained prohibited transaction exemptions and advisory opinions under ERISA from the US Department of Labor. He works closely with other members of the firm to counsel plans and institutional clients on matters that involve both ERISA and federal and state insurance, securities and banking law.

Gary is also experienced in ERISA litigation matters. He represents fiduciaries, plans and plan sponsors in class actions and individual suits involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty, ERISA statutory violations and benefit claims. He has also written amicus briefs in two US Supreme Court ERISA cases. In addition to this litigation work, Gary regularly advises clients on the effect of litigation trends on the design and administration of their plans and compliance with fiduciary duties. He has also done extensive work on ERISA "preemption" of state law in connection with state health care initiatives and managed care organizations.

In his practice, Gary provides counsel regarding the retirement plans of large and small clients on design and operational matters, including vendor contracting, alternative investments, plan governance structure and compliance with tax qualification requirements.

Gary is an adjunct professor of employee benefits law at The University of Iowa College of Law. He often speaks on employee benefits law topics across the country.

Shown below is a selection of Gary’s engagements.


Best Lawyers in America, 2007–2018
Super Lawyers, 2006–2017

Financial Times

Financial Times, US Innovative Lawyers 2013
Contributing Author, Allocation and Delegation of Fiduciary Responsibilities, ERISA Fiduciary Law, Second Edition, Bureau of National Affairs
Contributing Author, Insurance Companies as Fiduciaries, ERISA Fiduciary Law, First Edition, Bureau of National Affairs
Firm News
Gary W. Howell


  • JD, The University of Iowa College of Law
  • BA, The University of Iowa

Bar Admissions

  • New York
  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • US Supreme Court


Best Lawyers in America
Super Lawyers

Financial Times

US Innovative Lawyers 2013
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