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Jennifer Watkins

Partner | Email

  • Southfield

    t. +1.248.784.5192

    f. +1.248.603.9792

Biography

Jennifer Watkins advises employers on the design and operation of their retirement, executive compensation and welfare benefit plans. She also represents employers with matters before the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Industries

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Education

  • University of Toledo J.D. 2003 magna cum laude
  • University of Toledo B.B.A. 1999 Information Systems

Admitted

  • 2003, Michigan

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Taxation and Labor and Employment Sections
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Taxation Section; Employee Benefits Committee

Honors & Awards

  • Named as a Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star, 2012-2015
  • Order of the Coif
  • Managing Editor, University of Toledo Law Review

Experience

  • Managed qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) approval process for a defined benefit plan with more than 80,000 participants and a 401(k) plan with more than 20,000 participants
  • Prepared new plan document that merged a client’s 401(k), after tax and profit sharing plans and designed a comprehensive package of administrative forms and processes for the merged plan, including election forms, beneficiary forms, QDRO forms and procedures and distribution forms; then designed a system for administering and reporting rollovers and distributions
  • Performed a comprehensive operational audit of a client’s qualified retirement and welfare plans, prepared an audit report of findings and recommendations and helped design a strategy to address resulting issues
  • Managed termination process for several pension plans, including a cash balance plan and two plans of nonprofit clients
  • Handled complicated correction process for required minimum distribution failures spanning many years and involving a defined benefit plan recently converted to cash balance
  • Prepared retroactive amendments and voluntary correction program (VCP) submission for nonprofit client whose defined benefit plan was missing five required interim amendments
  • Designed comprehensive distribution form packages for several defined benefit and 401(k) plans
  • Prepared VCP submissions and assisted in successful negotiations with IRS regarding numerous loan failures involving a client’s four 401(k) plans
  • Designed and implemented process and standard documents for client who regularly acquired companies with their own 401(k) plans and sold subsidiaries who participated in the client’s 401(k) plan
  • Prepared complete set of documents to implement new governance structure for client’s defined benefit, 401(k), executive compensation and welfare benefit plans

Publications

  • "13 Things You Need to Know About Compensation," Journal of Pension Benefits, Summer 2012
  • Contributing Author, Employee Benefits Law (Second Edition), Cumulative Supplement, 2006
  • Contributing Author, Employee Benefits Law (Second Edition), Cumulative Supplement, 2005

Leadership

Professional Affiliations

  • Michigan Employee Benefits Conference

Community Affiliations

  • Shelter to Home, Inc.
    Board Secretary, June 2013 - Present
  • Shelter Art Foundation
    Board member, November 2012 - Present
  • Inforum - A Professional Women's Alliance
    2011 Class
  • Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary, Inc.
    Board Member, June 2006 - December 2011

Speaking Engagements

  • "401(k) Withdrawal Dos and Don'ts," Warner Norcross Human Resources Seminar, May 23, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "How Does Compensation Affect Your Benefit Plan? 10 Things You Need to Know," Warner Norcross & Judd LLP HR Seminar (2012)
  • "Retirement Plan Issues in Uncertain Times," Warner Norcross & Judd LLP HR Seminar (March 2010)

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

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