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Heidi A. Lyon

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2496

    f. +1.616.222.2496

Biography

Heidi practices employee benefits law with an emphasis on retirement plan and executive compensation matters. Her practice includes counseling employers, plan sponsors, and service providers on designing, operating, and maintaining employee benefit plans that attract, retain, and engage a talented and diverse workforce at a manageable cost. Heidi has previously served as Chairperson of the firm's Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation Practice Group and of the firm’s Professional Staff Committee that supervises associates and paralegals.

Industries

Education

  • George Washington University J.D. 2002
  • University of Michigan B.A. 1998 with distinction

Admitted

  • 2002, Michigan

Courts

  • Michigan State Courts
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. Tax Court

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Tax Section, Employee Benefits Subcommittee, and Joint Committee on Employee Benefits
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Tax Section and Employee Benefits Subcommittee
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association

Experience

  • Designing and drafting defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans, including 401(a), 401(k), 403(b), 457, ESOPs, cash balance pension plans, and governmental plans
  • Counseling employers and other plan fiduciaries on their duties, including engaging and retaining service providers through an RFP and plan governance issues
  • Assisting ESOPs with strategic and compliance issues
  • Implementing cash balance pension plans to facilitate tax-deferred retirement savings in excess of what a standard 401(k) plan allows
  • Coordinating the merger and transition of retirement plans sponsored by a publicly traded company from multiple recordkeepers and investment service providers to one new provider
  • Advising governmental plan sponsors on compliance with the unique framework of state and federal laws applicable to their plans
  • Counseling tax-exempt employers and service providers on the issues raised by the final 403(b) regulations
  • Designing early retirement programs to transition workforces
  • Assisting employers with planning for acquisitions of new subsidiaries with substantially different existing benefit plan arrangements
  • Structuring a plan with different levels of contributions for union and non-union employees at multiple locations within the same organization
  • Reviewing, designing, and drafting non-qualified deferred compensation plans to reward executives and key employees and comply with Code Section 409A
  • Performing preventative plan audits and client training to identify areas of non-compliance and inefficiency

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2013-Present
  • Recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as one of its 20 Up & Coming Lawyers for 2009 for her work in employee benefits
  • Named as a Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star, 2009-Present
  • Notes Editor, The Environmental Lawyer

News

Publications

  • "Avoiding 10 Common Plan Compensation Mistakes," Employee Benefit Plan Review, Volume 66, Number 9, March 2012
  • "For Better or For Worse:  The New Determination Letter System For Qualified Retirement Plans," Michigan Tax Lawyer, Volume XXII, Issue 2, Summer 2007
  • "Employers Will Soon Be Able To Offer Roth 401(k)," MiBiz West, 11/14/2005
  • Coauthor, "Division of Retirement Benefits," Michigan Family Law (7th ed.), Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education
  • Upheaval in the World of Nonqualified Deferred Compensation

Leadership

Professional Affiliations

  • Employee Stock Ownership Plan Association of America
    Professional Member
  • IRS Great Lakes Tax-Exempt and Governmental Entities Council
    Active Member (2007; 2015-Present)
  • American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)
    Member

Community Affiliations

  • Inforum - A Professional Women's Alliance
    Executive Leadership Program, 2011 Class
  • Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids
    Former Board Member (2003-12) and Officer (2005-09)
  • Women Lawyers v. Judges Annual Charity Softball Game Participant (2004-Present)

Speaking Engagements

  • "Planning for Change for Benefit Plans," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 3, 2018, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “Section 457(f) Issues,” IRS TE/GE Council Annual Meeting, February 23, 2018, Baltimore, Maryland
  • "Myth or Truth: Employee Benefits Panel," Warner Labor & Benefits Executive Panels, October 26, 2017, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • “Fiduciary Forum – Legal Review,” West Michigan Fiduciary Forum, October 12, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
    "Benefits Myth Busters,"Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 23, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “Top 5 Practitioner Issues for DOL,” IRS TE/GE Council Annual Meeting, February 24, 2017, Baltimore, Maryland
    "Attracting and Retaining Millennials," Warner Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, October 21, 2016, Traverse City, Michigan
  • "How to be a smart purchaser of retirement plans," Radiology Business Managers of Michigan, November 4, 2015
  • Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, Warner Seminar, September 30, 2015, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • "Understanding and Overcoming Retirement Plan Fiduciary Challenges," West Michigan Fiduciary Forum, May 6, 2015
  • "Navigating the Retirement Plan Marketplace," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 20, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation Panel, Labor and Benefits Executive Panel-Government Enforcement Initiatives, October 23, 2014, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • "Communicating Employee Benefits," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 22, 2014, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Monitoring and Controlling Benefit Costs," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 29, 2013, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “New Fiduciary Liabilities for Retirement Plans," Healthcare Financial Management Association (West MI Chapter) Spring Conference, March 20, 2013, Caledonia, Michigan
  • "The Aging Workforce: Navigating the Perfect Storm," MI-CUPA Annual HR Conference, October 5, 2012, Saginaw, Michigan
  • "The Aging Workforce: Navigating the Perfect Storm," Employment Outlook & Strategy Seminar, October 2, 2012, Birmingham, Michigan
  • "An Aging Workforce:  Navigating the Perfect Storm," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 2, 2012, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Retirement Plan RFPs," Warner Webinar, December 20, 2011
  • "Tackling Administration Challenges," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 25, 2011, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Back to the Basics of 401(k)," Warner  Human Resources Seminar, March 23, 2010, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "FAQs About The Division of Retirement Plan Assets," presented to the GRBA Family Law Section in Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 23, 2011
  • "New Compliance Challenges for Employers and Other Plan Fiduciaries" and "Hot Fringe Benefits Issues," Warner  Human Resources Seminar, September 11, 2008, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "The Legal Aspects of Wellness and Health Plan Compliance," Health Care Seminar, August 21, 2007, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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