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A Better Partnership

Anthony J. Kolenic Jr.

Of Counsel | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2412

    f. +1.616.222.2412

    m. +1.231.557.7412
  • Muskegon

    t. +1.231.727.2625

    f. +1.231.728.7725


For more than 30 years, Tony Kolenic has represented private sector, tax-exempt and governmental employers in all facets of employee benefits and executive compensation. He regularly counsels clients regarding compliance with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code and various labor and securities laws impacting 401(k) plans, defined benefit plans, multiemployer plans, health care plans, stock option plans, change in control agreements and employee stock ownership plans, as well as all related employee benefit and executive compensation programs. He is the former chair of the firm's Employee Benefits Practice Group.



  • University of Michigan Law School J.D. 1977 magna cum laude
  • Michigan State University B.S. 1975 with high honors


  • 1978, Michigan
  • 1999, Colorado (inactive)

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Taxation Law Section, Business Law Section, Labor and Employment Law Section
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Taxation Law Section; Business Law Section; Labor and Employment Law Section; State Bar of Michigan Muskegon County Disciplinary Panel #2 Chairperson

Teaching and Lecturing

  • Adjunct Faculty Member, Western Michigan University (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist Program), 1990-05
  • Adjunct Faculty Member, Grand Valley State University (Taxation and Employee Benefits), 1996-Present
  • Adjunct Faculty Member, Muskegon Community College, 1983-88


Qualified Plans

  • Designing and drafting defined benefit, 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), stock bonus and employee stock ownership plans
  • Negotiating complex agreements on behalf of employers with third-party service providers
  • Designing and implementing early retirement incentive programs offering employees increased pension and health benefits
  • Advising publicly traded companies on the merger of multiple defined contribution plans
  • Counseling companies on the fiduciary issues associated with defined contribution plan investments in employer stock
  • Counseling employers regarding the impact of mergers and acquisitions on their pension, 401(k), multiemployer, health and welfare and non-qualified deferred compensation plans
  • Assisting employers with submissions to correct retirement plan operational errors under Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor correction procedures
  • Implementing the freeze and termination of defined benefit pension plans with the PBGC in both standard and distress terminations
  • Assisting employers in successfully resolving issues raised in Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service audits
  • Advising employers and individuals in high dollar QDRO disputes

Governmental and Tax-Exempt Employers

  • Designing and drafting governmental "pick-up" plans
  • Advising governmental and tax-exempt employers on the final 403(b) and 457(b) regulations, including compliance with ERISA, information sharing agreements, and Form 5500 filing requirements

Non-qualified Plans and Compliance with Section 409A

  • Assisting employers with the review, design, drafting and 409A compliance of non-qualified deferred compensation plans and complex equity incentive plans for executives and key employees
  • Drafting and conducting Internal Revenue Code Section 409A reviews of deferred compensation plans, including phantom stock plans, individual account balance plans, non-account balance plans, incentive based plans and severance agreements

Multiemployer Pension Plans 

  • Counseling employers, lending banks and multiemployer pension plans regarding multiemployer plan withdrawal liability and the impacts of multiemployer plan "endangered" and "critical" status
  • Assisting employers with reviewing and challenging multimillion dollar withdrawal liability claims by multiemployer pension funds

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits Law, 1995-Present
  • Named a Top Lawyer in Employee Benefits Law, Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019
  • Named the Grand Rapids 2018 Employee Benefits Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers, 2006-16
  • Rated a leader in the field of employee benefits and executive compensation law in Michigan by Chambers USA, 2009-Present
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014
  • Muskegon Community College Distinguished Alumnus 2012
  • Order of the Coif
  • Recipient of the University of Michigan Law School Katcher Senior Tax Prize
  • Fellow, Michigan State Bar Foundation



Professional Affiliations

  • Great Lakes TE/GE Council
    Chair, Liaison Council (2012-2015)
  • Michigan Bankers Association
    Advisor, Trust Committee

Community Affiliations

  • Sylvia and Richard Kaufman Interfaith Institute
    Dialogue Committee
  • Kiwanis Division 15
    Past President and Lieutenant Governor
  • Muskegon County Catholic Education Foundation
    Past President and Board Member
  • Muskegon County Museum
    Past President
  • Muskegon Jaycees
    Recipient, Distinguished Service Award

Speaking Engagements

  • “Employee Benefits Update,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 3, 2018, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Legal Update and What's on the Horizon," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 23, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Moderator, "Attracting and Retaining Millennials," Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, October 18, 2016, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • "Legislative Update and Current Trends" and "Optimizing Your Retirement Plan Design," Warner Human Resources Seminar, June 9, 2016, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, Warner Seminar, September 30, 2015, Kalamazoo, Michigan, and October 5, 2015, Traverse City, Michigan
  • "Legislative Update - Recent Developments in Employee Benefits" and "Retirement Plan Panel Discussion," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 20, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation Panel Moderator, Labor and Benefits Executive Panel-Government Enforcement Initiatives, October 23, 2014, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • "Hot Topics in Retirement Plans," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 22, 2014, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Lessons Learned: ERISA Fees and Expenses," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 29, 2013, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "The Anatomy of a VCP Submission:  Anything That Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 2, 2012, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Surviving -- Even Thriving -- as an ERISA Fiduciary in Today's 401(k) World," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 25, 2011, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Correction of Section 409A Errors," IRS TE/GE Liaison Group, Chicago, Illinois, July, 2010
  • "Employee Benefits General Session," Warner Human Resources Seminar, March 23, 2010, Grand Rapids, Michigan   
  • "Employer of Choice - Meaningful Benefits - Retirement," Warner Human Resources Seminar, September 11, 2008, Grand Rapids, Michigan 
  • Speaker at various seminars for employee benefit service providers and attorneys

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