Pensions & Benefits 2019: Analysis

This year’s research sees 365 practitioners highlighted in our guide for their work in the field. The practitioners below provide a wealth of expertise on both advisory and contentious matters, advising employers, funds and investment managers on a range of issues in the space.


The Global Elite Thought Leaders are those individuals who received the highest number of nominations from peers, corporate counsel and other market sources this year. Our research has identified them as truly outstanding practitioners and the very best in their field.
Who's Who Legal does not list law firms, only individual lawyers. The leading firms are those in each region whose listed practitioners received the most total nominations in our research.


Global Elite Thought Leaders
1. Martin Diller Gleiss Lutz, Stuttgart
2. Daniel Gerring  Travers Smith LLP, London
3. Jean-Michel Mir  Capstan Avocats, Paris
4. Alfred Blesi  Blesi & Papa, Zurich
5. Graham Damant Bowmans, Johannesburg
6. Jonathan Mort Jonathan Mort Inc, Cape Town

Leading Firms

Sacker & Partners

Seven outstanding individuals are highlighted from the firm this year.
Faith Dickson is one of the pre-eminent figures in the market with respondents highlighting her superb insight into scheme changes and bulk transfers.
David Saunders is a top-notch practitioner with an excellent reputation that sees him recognised by interviewees for his ability on mergers, scheme funding and regulatory issues.
Michaela Berry is an impressive lawyer at the firm who garners plaudits for her excellent work on issues arising from mergers and acquisitions.

Norrbom Vinding

This firm continues to impress in our research, receiving six listings in our guide.
Morten Langer is a go-to name in the Nordics who receives widespread praise from market commentators for his work on incentive schemes and executive service agreements. He is “a highly skilled lawyer with an impeccable ability to provide solid and constructive advice in complex matters”, report sources.
Jørgen Vinding has a superb reputation in the space for his expertise on contentious matters. Respondents describe him as “always thorough, to the point and offering both a legal and practical view”.
Yvonne Frederiksen is a top-drawer practitioner who wins effusive praise from peers this year for her “great professional insight and customer-oriented approach”. She runs an impressive practice that sees her involved in employee incentive schemes and welfare issues.
Torben Mølgaard Hededal is “great to work with; very smart, precise and analytic”, report interviewees. His practice features specialist understanding of the tax aspects of pensions schemes.

Travers Smith

This firm remains a go-to for pensions and benefits issues in the region, with four excellent practitioners highlighted this year.
Global Elite Thought Leader Daniel Gerring is credited for his “great understanding, responsiveness and delivery” by clients. His practice sees him engaged in such matters as acquisitions and covenant issues.
David James is “able to give accurate, reliable and commercially minded advice” and “has the unique ability to understand where different parties are coming from, provide practical advice and drive the matter to a really good solution,” according to impressed clients.
Susie Daykin has “good in-depth knowledge and understanding”, according to sources who also laud her “strong communication skills”. Her practice offers a “commercial and practical approach” to scheme valuations and mergers.
Clients are impressed by the “sheer quality of the work” of Paul Stannard, who is credited for his “ability to find solutions to problems”. A “pragmatic and helpful practitioner” he is “very knowledgeable” on matters across the field.

Sagardoy Abogados

This Spanish firm wins plaudits from interviewees across the region in our research.
Román Gil is highlighted as a Global Elite Thought Leader in our research this year for his expertise on corporate restructurings and litigation in the space. “He has an extremely agile mind able to provide answers and solutions for completely unexpected questions and behaviours very quickly,” says one client.Iñigo Sagardoy is a leading name in the Spanish market who draws much applause from respondents to our research for his handling of social security issues. Sources recommend him for his “practical approach focused on clients’ needs”.
Martín Godino is a well-recognised figure in the field and a top name at the firm with a wealth of experience in the pensions and benefits space.
José Manuel Martín possesses deep understanding of corporate restructurings and related litigation and wins recommendations from international sources this year.


Five impressive individuals are highlighted from Bowmans this year.
Graham Damant is a Global Elite Thought Leader who receives effusive praise from peers for his impressive work on disputes between employers and pension funds.
Chris Todd is a “recognised leader” who continues to wins plaudits from peers for his disputes work in the field, having represented a wide range of clients in the space.
Karen Fulton is a “top lawyer” for matters including bonus disputes and cross-border contracts, according to respondents to our research.

Other Leading Individuals


Lewis Silkin’s Colin Leckey is “an extremely insightful, knowledgeable and committed”  lawyer who is commended by interviewees for his handling of matters in the financial and professional services and technology sectors. “He knows how to frame legal advice in a way that resonates,” says one source.
Hannah Price is a leading name for HR matters, with a wealth of expertise on cross-border employment issues in the space. One source comments, “She comes up with clear advice even in the most complex scenarios.”

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang’s Mark Grant is a well-established practitioner in the pensions space with a wealth of knowledge on litigation strategy for both trustees and employers.


At Dittmar & Indrenius, Petteri Uoti is a Global Elite Thought Leader who continues to possess a stellar reputation in the region for his work on human resource policies in the Finnish market.


Capstan Avocats’ Jean-Michel Mir is a “very knowledgeable, very technical and very, very clever guy who has great expertise in what he’s doing,” comment respondents. He excels in employee share ownership and working time arrangement issues, with expertise on both domestic and international matters.
Pascal Lagoutte is “one of the European leaders and a top figure in France”, according to sources. He runs an excellent practice that sees him assist international firms on issues arising from restructurings.
Another well-respected lawyer from the firm is Bruno Serizay, who is “very well known for compensation and benefits matters” including social welfare issues and restructurings.

Flichy Grangé Avocats’ Joël Grangé is an authority on employee savings schemes and social security-related matters, where he provides in-depth expertise of the French market.


Martin Diller of Gleiss Lutz is highlighted as “one of the leading pensions lawyers in the market” by peers. He possesses superb expertise concerning outsourcing and collective bargaining arrangements.
Doris-Maria Schuster possesses impressive experience on employment contracts and bonus-related litigation, with numerous observers recommending her for her work in the field this year.

CMS Hasche Sigle’s Björn Gaul is “really outstanding, and a benchmark on all fronts”, report laudatory peers. He possesses excellent knowledge of corporate restructurings, salary structure adjustments and flexible working hours arrangements.

Allen & Overy’s Thomas Ubber is a top-drawer practitioner with a stellar reputation in the market for his expertise on employee participation and salary structure adjustments.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s René Döring is “very active in this field” and has “great expertise in company pensions law”. He garners strong support from respondents for his proficency on the outsourcing of pension liabilities.

Anja Mengel of Schweibert Leßmann & Partner is a widely recognised name in the German market with respondents highlighting her expertise on compensation schemes and social security issues. “She is a highly professional, highly competent negotiator who is able to get to meaningful solutions and compromise,” says one peer.

KLIEMT.Arbeitsrecht’s Michael Kliemt is a "very renowned" name in the German market with a comprehensive skillset and deep expertise in the sector. His top-notch practice sees him involved in such issues as working hours and remuneration changes.


Toffoletto De Luca Tamajo e Soci’s Franco Toffoletto is a “leading personality in the European market” who provides specialist understanding and expert handling of pensions issues.
Aldo Bottini excels on issues arising out of restructurings and individual employment contracts, with respondents giving him strong support in our research this year thanks to his “solid industry knowledge and experience”.

South Africa

The “excellent” Jonathan Mort is a “real pensions expert” who is regularly cited as one of the foremost names in the area in South Africa. He is particularly well regarded for his work on distressed funds.


Sources "highly recommend" Alfred Blesi, noting him as a "very prominent" figure and one of the top names in the market in Switzerland, with a deep understanding of complex issues in the field.



Global Elite Thought Leaders
1. Erika C Collins Proskauer Rose, New York
2. Paul Litner Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Toronto
3. Susan Nickerson  Torys LLP, Toronto

Leading Firms

Osler Hoskin & Harcourt

This Canadian firm continues to impress in our research, receiving three listings this year.
Paul Litner is a “very knowledgeable practitioner” who “regularly advises many large public sector pension plans”, report interviewees. He is highlighted this year as a Global Elite Thought Leader for his work on regulatory matters and issues arising out of M&A.
Jana Steele has “particular expertise on shared risk plans”, with interviewees crediting her for her “extensive written and spoken work in the field as well as her implementation of many novel structures”.
Douglas Rienzo isgreatly respected by peers in the market who describe him as a “strong technical lawyer and a good communicator”. 

Brown Mills Klinck Prezioso

Three individuals from Brown Mills Klinck Prezioso wins inclusion in this year’s guide.
Lisa Mills is a “very knowledgeable and pragmatic lawyer” according to impressed peers. Her practice features impressive understanding of defined benefit plan de-risking and executive compensation programmes.
Terra Klinck has “broad experience in the pensions and benefits space” with sources speaking particularly highly of her work on transactions such as M&A, insolvencies and restructuring.
Elizabeth Brown is “a strategic thinker who is extremely knowledgeable across all aspects of pensions and benefits law”. Sources state that “her work in the university plan consolidation space is cutting edge” and that she is “always practical and a pleasure to work opposite”.

Other Leading Individuals


Torys’ Susan Nickerson is described as “a fantastic practitioner who is well-known in the pensions and benefits space”. She is adept on such issues as plan conversion and fiduciary duties.
Mitch Frazer receives widespread commendation from interviewees this year for his understanding of pension plan law and his superb experience in the field, particularly in relation to transactional matters.

At Blake Cassels & Graydon, Elizabeth Boyd “acts in leading edge, province-wide benefits trust negotiations” and other complex employee benefit matters, for which she continues to garners much praise from peers in the jurisdiction.
Kathryn Bush is noted to be “a significant player in the space” by peers. She possesses superb understanding of tax issues and is frequently involved in governance work and disputes in the field.

Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie’s Stephanie Kalinowski is a “client-focused lawyer and a great negotiator” who draws effusive praise from respondents to our research for her ability on compensation issues and incentive plans.

Morgan Lewis & Bockius’ Brian Ortelere is a dean of the field, with sources across the jurisdiction highlighting him for his work, which includes class actions relating to cash balance plans and employee stock ownership.
Gregory Braden is a distinguished practitioner who continues to impress in our research. He runs an enviable practice that sees him handling retiree benefits claims and severance pay claims.


Enrique Munita of Munita & Olavarría is a top-quality practitioner in the region who wins plaudits from across the market for his work on stock option plans and litigious issues in the field.
Cristián Olavarría garners strong support from interviewees for his expertise on social security issues and compensation plans.

Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos & Cia’s Ricardo Tisi is a well-respected practitioner with a top-drawer practice that features deep insight into issues relating to compensation packages, restructurings and stock options plans.


Santamarina y Steta’s Juan Carlos de la Vega is a Global Elite Thought Leader who sources say is “one of the very best” in the field. His practice provides a wealth of experience on social security issues.


Erika Collins of Proskauer Rose is a pre-eminent name in the jurisdiction who is listed this year as a Global Elite Thought Leader for her work on issues arising out of restructurings. Sources call her “very meticulous” and comment that “it is always a pleasure working with her”.

At Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Michael Delikat is a go-to name in the space who continues to receive plaudits in our research for his work on litigation in the field.

Groom Law Group’s David Powell is lauded by clients for “continually demonstrating a vast knowledge of IRS rules, regulations and practice when it comes to public pension plans”. His advice is “thorough, well thought out and easy to understand”.

Littler Mendelson’s Johan Lubbe is an accomplished practitioner with a stellar reputation in the jurisdiction for his adept handling of issues relating to employment contracts and mobility policies.
Bruce Millman is an outstanding lawyer with a top-class practice that wins him much applause for his work on compensation issues and business restructurings.

Ford & Harrison’s Herbert Gerson has a superb practice that wins him plaudits from across the region and features deep insight into contentious matters in the space. He is praised for his “very quick, hands-on advice”.

Cohen & Buckmann’s Sandra Cohen is a “responsive and reliable practitioner” who is “well aware of the complexities of executive compensation law” and “advises her clients not just based on current law but also on the most likely future state of the law”.



Global Elite Thought Leaders
1. Duncan AW Abate  Mayer Brown, Hong Kong
2. Zheng Xie  Fangda Partners, Shanghai
3. Kazutoshi Kakuyama  Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, Tokyo
4. Sang Wook Cho  Yulchon, Seoul

Leading Firms

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

This firm is a dominant force for pensions and benefits issues in the region, with three practitioners listed this year.
Kazutoshi Kakuyama is a legend of the space with decades of experience. This year he is listed as a Global Elite Thought Leader for his work on compensation and retirement allowance issues.
Hideki Thurgood Kanoh is a distinguished name in the market who peers call “an intelligent lawyer and strong communicator”. He runs a top-drawer practice that sees him engaged in pension insurance issues and pension plan structuring.
Nobuhito Sawasaki is an impressive lawyer at the firm who has an excellent reputation in Japan for his wide-ranging expertise in sector-related litigation.

Other Leading Individuals


Herbert Smith Freehills’ Michael Vrisakis continues to impress in our research, with sources commending his superb understanding of superannuation matters as well as regulatory issues.

Maged Girgis of MinterEllison garners widespread plaudits for his handling of issues relating to tax and regulatory concerns, advising clients including employers, trustee companies and investment managers.

Allens’ Michelle Levy is a prominent figure in the jurisdiction who wins effusive praise from interviewees for her adeptness advising superannuation funds on related tax issues.

Sparke Helmore’s Peter Charteris has extensive experience on superannuation and tax law issues, and is widely regarded as a top name in Australia in the pensions field.


At Fangda Partners, Zheng Xie is a Global Elite Thought Leader whose prolific practice sees him engaged in a wide range of transactional matters in the space. Sources highlight him as “extremely responsive, offering to-the-point, commercial advice”.

Hong Kong

Mayer Brown’s Duncan Abate is a “employee benefits and pensions expert” according to peers who rate him highly. He is adept at handling matters relating to retirement and provident fund schemes.
Hong Tran is a widely recognised figure in the jurisdiction whosw practice features strong expertise on issues arising out changes of employment arrangements.

Cynthia Chung of Deacons is a distinguished practitioner who is commended by sources for her “in-depth experience and expertise in pension-related matters” and her “ability to offer practical advice based on actual situations”.


Trilegal’s Ajay Raghavan is a terrific lawyer whose practice earns numerous recommendations for work including the structuring stock option schemes and negotiation employment contracts.

At Indus Law, Manishi Pathak has a superb reputation in the Indian market with interviewees highlighting him for his handling of regulatory concerns in the space.

Nishith Desai Associates’ Vikram Shroff is a prominent player in the jurisdiction who wins effusive praise from respondents to our research for his “thorough understanding of clients’ businesses” and his “excellent listening skills”.

Bhasin and Bhasin Associates’ Amit Bhasin has a stellar reputation in the market for his ability on contentious matters in the space, with expertise covering issues both domestically and internationally. Sources call him “one of the best in the business”.


Yulchon is home to a Global Elite Thought Leader in Sang Wook Cho whose terrific work on wage disputes and separation package negotiations wins him much praise from interviewees.


At WongPartnership, Jenny Tsin is a standout practitioner with a stellar reputation in the region for her aptitude on both contentious and non-contentious matters in the space.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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