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A Better Partnership

Kent D. Sparks

Associate | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2295

    f. +1.616.222.2295


Kent Sparks assists employers in structuring retirement programs and executive compensation arrangements and maintaining compliance in this complex area of employee benefits law. His attention to detail and understanding of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code proves invaluable when drafting plan documents and assisting with daily compliance needs for a variety of clients, both large and small. Kent's practice is research-driven and he enjoys presenting information in an approachable, yet comprehensive manner and finding creative solutions for clients. His background as a high school teacher provides an excellent foundation for educating others on employee benefits matters and fuels his continuous pursuit for knowledge. 


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  • Michigan State University College of Law J.D. 2015 summa cum laude
  • University of Michigan B.A. 2011 high distinction


  • 2015, Michigan


  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan in 2015

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Tax Section and Employee Benefits Subcommittee
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Tax Section and LGBTQA Section
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association


  • Designs qualified retirement programs, including 401(k), 403(b), and defined benefit plans, and counsels clients on related compliance matters
  • Designs non-qualified deferred compensation plans and counsels on compliance with Code Section 409A
  • Assists in addressing qualified and non-qualified plan issues in the context of mergers and acquisitions
  • Prepares IRS and PBGC filings to obtain rulings and determination letters on initial qualifications, amendments, and terminations for both single and multiemployer plans
  • Assists clients in filing retirement plan correction submissions with the IRS and the Department of Labor
  • Prepares IRS filings to obtain expedited exemptions from certain prohibited transactions
  • Drafts domestic relations orders for the division of retirement assets upon marriage dissolution
  • Approved Civil and Domestic Mediator (completed 40-hour training courses approved by the State Court Administrative Office)

Honors & Awards

  • Grand Rapids Bar Association '3-in-10' Award Recipient, 2020
  • Senior Notes Editor, Michigan State Law Review
  • Recipient, Dean Charles H. King Scholarship
  • Recipient, Academic Excellence Scholarship
  • James B. Angell Scholar
  • Jurisprudence Achievement Awards in Contract Drafting; Michigan Family Law; Appellate Advocacy; Research, Writing, and Analysis; and Agricultural Law


  • "Requiring Administrative Exhaustion While the School Shuts Down: An Insurmountable Barrier to Seeking IDEA Enforcement," 2014 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1161 (2014)
  • "The New Establishment Clause: The Risks of Elevating Historical Practices Above Legal Principles," 2 Indon. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 369 (2015)

Ahead of the Curve Auto Supplier Blog


Community Affiliations

  • Grand Rapids Public Library
    Board of Commissioners, Board President (2018-Present)
  • Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation
    Trustee (2020-Present)
  • Mind Meets Music
    Board of Directors, Member (2017-18)
  • Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
    Young Professionals Board (2016-18)
  • Whitmore Lake Public Schools
    Board of Education, Former Board President (2009-12)

Speaking Engagements

  • The Who, What, When and How of ERISA's Reporting and Disclosure Requirements for Retirement Plans," Warner  Human Resources Seminar, May 3, 2018, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • ACA Report Requirements webinar, November 6, 2017
  • "Myth or Truth: Employee Benefits Panel," Warner Labor & Benefits Executive Panels, October 26, 2017, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • "Benefits Myth Busters" and "Defined Contribution Plans 101," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 23, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Understanding the Affordable Care Act Reporting Requirements," Warner Webinar, November 22, 2016
  • "Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) Compliance Issues," Warner Webinar, July 20, 2016
  • "Consumer-Driven Trends and Pitfall with Implementing and Operating High Deductible Health Plans," Warner Human Resources Seminar, June 9, 2016, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “Health & Welfare Plans Panel Discussion," Warner Human Resources Seminar, June 9, 2016, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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