Skip to main content
A Better Partnership

Heidi A. Lyon

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2496

    f. +1.616.222.2496


Heidi practices employee benefits law with an emphasis on retirement plan and executive compensation matters particularly those with securities law implications. Her practice includes counseling employers, plan fiduciaries, plan sponsors, and service providers on designing, operating, and maintaining compliant employee benefit plans that attract, retain, and engage a talented and diverse workforce at a manageable cost. For publicly traded companies, these plans involve coordination with securities laws including the ’33 Act and ’34 Act. Heidi is currently a member of the firm's Management Committee and chairs the firm’s Professional Staff Committee that supervises senior counsel, associates and paralegals. She has previously served as Chair of the firm’s Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation Practice Group.



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


  • 2002, Michigan


  • 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


  • 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
  • Providing legal advice and training to fiduciary committees, boards and management teams
  • 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
  • Leader in the field of employee benefits and executive compensation law in Michigan, Chambers USA, 2021
  • Top Lawyer in Employee Benefits Law, Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019-21
  • 20 Up & Coming Lawyers for her work in employee benefits, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2009
  • Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star, 2009-17
  • Notes Editor, The Environmental Lawyer



  • "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


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)

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

  • "Legal Developments in Human Resources," Association for Human Resources Management Panel, November 10, 2021, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Employee Benefits Webinar Series: Part 2 - Retirement Plan Legal Update," Warner Webinar, July 14, 2021
  • “COVID-19 Issues for Employee Benefit Plans,” Michigan Association of CPSs Virtual Fall Tax Symposium, November 12, 2020
  • "Employee Benefits Webinar Series: Part 1 - Retirement Plans: Preparing Your Plan for the New Normal, Year-End, and Beyond," Warner Webinar, October 27, 2020
  • "The New Normal and What’s Next for Retirement Plans," Warner Webinar, June 11, 2020
  • EBSA Practioners Panel, Virtual IRS TE/GE Council Meeting, National Press Club, February 27, 2020, Washington, D.C.
  • "Employee Benefits Panel," Warner 2019 HR Executive Panels, September 13, 2019, Traverse City, Michigan
  • "Crafting Deferred Compensation Solutions," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 7, 2019, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Executive Compensation & Other Benefits Guidance," IRS TE/GE Council Meeting, February 22, 2019, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
  • "Employee Benefits Panel," Warner 2018 HR Executive Panels, September 20, 2018, Traverse City, Michigan
  • "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, February 23, 2011, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "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

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.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.



+ -