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James R. Olson

Senior Counsel
fax +1 412.394.2555

James Olson handles comprehensive employee benefits, ERISA, and executive compensation matters.

James is a licensed attorney and certified public accountant with more than 28 years of legal experience handling comprehensive employee benefits, ERISA, and executive compensation matters.


J.D., Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
M.S., Robert Morris College - Taxation
B.S., Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


2019-2023: Best Lawyers in America- Closely Held Companies and Family Businesses Law


Allegheny County Bar Association

State Bar Licenses


Court Admissions

U.S. District Ct., W.D. of Pennsylvania

Employee Benefits

  • Advising for profit and nonprofit businesses, individuals and governmental agencies and municipalities on ERISA and employee benefit issues including qualified and non-qualified plan design, plan implementation and administration and plan terminations. Advising clients on qualified plan operational and qualification matters including plan drafting considerations, testing requirements, timing and implementation of required plan amendments and plan correction strategies under the EPCRS (IRS) and VFCP (DOL) programs.
  • Consulting with corporate, governmental and individual clients on ERISA issues including reporting and disclosure requirements, participation and vesting issues, funding, fiduciary responsibility liability and enforcement issues.
  • Advising clients on plan qualification and compliance issues including required plan testing.
  • Preparing determination letter requests with the IRS and all plan reporting documents with the IRS and DOL.
  • Advising and meeting with plan fiduciaries on fiduciary responsibility issues.
  • Meeting with plan administrators, fiduciaries and participants to discuss plan changes, qualification and participation matters and plan benefit issues.
  • Providing clients with advice regarding recent and pending legislative proposals and regulations.
  • Providing proactive advice on maintaining plan qualification and required plan changes. Responding to IRS and Department of Labor notices and requests for information. Representing clients before the IRS and Department of Labor on matters related to employee benefits and ERISA.
  • Advising clients on compliance matters related to ERISA compliance for welfare benefits, tax-exempt organizations and ERISA/employee benefit issues involved in corporate transactional matters.
  • Drafting welfare benefit plans including cafeteria plans, self-funded insurance plans and working with health insurance providers on types of health insurance products. Drafting employee benefit plan documents including defined contribution, defined benefit, 403(b) and welfare benefit plans.
  • Advising clients on termination strategies to avoid penalties and taxation of benefits. Assisting in the restatement of more than 200 plans for required plan amendments. Consulting with corporate, governmental and individual clients on administration and termination of qualified, non-qualified and welfare benefit plans.
  • Advising nonprofit clients regarding implementation and operation of Sec. 403(b) plans including advising clients of requirements under new regulations.
  • Consulting with clients on matters related to multiemployer plans including withdrawal and mass withdrawal issues.
  • Consulting with municipal and governmental agency plan clients on the drafting of plan documents and required ordinances and law changes.
  • Drafting position papers, client news advisories and newsletter articles with respect to new tax and benefit legislation, regulations and pronouncements.
  • Consulting with corporate clients on federal and state tax planning including corporate tax issues, tax provisions, tax return preparation including consolidated returns, tax-exempt organizations and executive compensation, excise taxes under Sec. 280G, and compensation limitations under Sec. 162(m).
  • Researching and drafting of memoranda on federal and state employee benefit and tax exempt organization issues.
  • Representing clients before the IRS and state tax authorities related to employee benefit and executive compensation controversies and audits.
  • Preparing and reviewing returns for employee and welfare benefit plans and tax-exempt entities.
  • Advising individual clients on issues related to conversion of regular IRAs to Roth IRAs. Assisting in the preparation for Tax Court litigation cases, including the technical summary of issues and preparing witnesses and evidence.

Deferred Compensation

  • Consulting with clients on the structure, implementation and tax implications of deferred compensation arrangements, including deferral arrangements, qualified and nonqualified stock option plans, restricted stock unit plans, phantom stock plans, excess benefit plans and supplemental employee retirement plans.
  • Drafting deferred compensation arrangements for clients ranging from small businesses to international corporations.
  • Review of deferred compensation arrangements for compliance with Code Sec. 409A and amendment of such arrangements when necessary.
  • Working with clients on the implementation and continued assessment of FAS 123R on qualified and nonqualified stock option arrangements.


The SECURE Act – Key Provisions and Deadlines for Retirement Plan Sponsors