Biography

Karen partners with employers of all sizes on a broad range of employee benefit plan design, drafting, implementation, and operational matters.

Karen's practice focuses on advising clients on their group health benefits, including cafeteria plans, self-insured plans, consumer-directed/HDHPs, HRAs, and HSAs, and providing guidance on HIPAA, COBRA, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance. She also has significant experience working with defined contribution and defined benefit pension plans, with particular experience in de-risking plans, terminating plans, filing voluntary correction submissions with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Labor, handling benefit claim disputes, and drafting and reviewing QDROs.

Employers turn to Karen for creative and straightforward solutions to complex issues surrounding retirement plans, health care benefits, and taxation. They rely on her to explain all the possible strategies and solutions in clear terms, and to organize a step-by-step plan of action. Her diligent, thoughtful approach assures clients that, together, they can successfully steer through any challenge and reach a beneficial resolution.

Karen's representative matters include:

  • Terminating multiple defined benefit pension plans for a client, and navigating the almost two-year, highly government-regulated process—from seeking agency approvals to making distributions to participants—of removing millions of dollars of volatile retirement liability from the company's books
  • Harmonizing the health and welfare benefit offerings of two large companies following their merger, including rewriting plan documents and employee communications
  • Assisting a client in adding employer stock as an investment offering under its 401(k) plan, which involved amending the plan document and expanding the plan's summary plan description to comply with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, and Securities and Exchange Act regulations; and providing education and advice on the fiduciary implications of holding company stock in an ERISA-governed plan
  • Responding to the Internal Revenue Service's proposed six-to-seven-figure penalty assessments under the employer shared responsibility provisions of the ACA for multiple clients and negotiating for significantly reduced to no penalty
  • Submitting a voluntary correction application to the IRS on behalf of a client that mistakenly excluded certain groups of employees from its qualified retirement plan; Karen's rapid response permitted the client to significantly reduce the amount of corrective contributions it was required to make, while protecting its plan's tax-qualified status for the future

Karen currently serves on the firm's Diversity Committee and is the immediate past Chairperson of the Associate Development Committee.

A native Mainer, Karen thoroughly enjoys the outdoors through all seasons with her husband, two boys, and a very energetic soft coated wheaten terrier.

Services/Industries

Education

  • University of Maine School of Law  (J.D., cum laude)
    • Editor, Maine Law Review
  • Wesleyan University  (B.A.)

Bar Admissions

  • Maine

Memberships

  • Maine State Bar Association
  • Maine Employee Benefits Council
  • New England Employee Benefits Council

Honors

  • AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law in Portland, Maine
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in New England Rising Stars© under Employee Benefits

To learn more about third-party ratings and rankings, and the selection processes used for inclusion, click here.

Firm Highlights

News

77 Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2023, Including Six Named Lawyers of the Year

Blog

401(k) Plan Matching Contributions: To True Up or Not True Up?

As a matter of plan design, for purposes of matching contributions some 401(k) plans provide that a participant’s compensation for the entire plan year is taken into account (regardless of whether the participant makes...

Blog

Pension-Linked Emergency Savings Accounts: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Forthcoming

Following the initial flurry of publications summarizing the retirement plan enhancements under the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 (“SECURE 2.0”), this post takes a deeper dive into one of those enhancements: the optional “pension-linked...

Publication/Podcast

Amending Your Retirement Plans this Year for SECURE Act and CARES Act Changes

This post was updated on September 29, 2022. On August 3, 2022, the IRS extended the deadline for retirement plan sponsors to adopt amendments necessary to comply with the Setting Every Community Up for...

Blog

A Last-Minute Gift – Prescription Drug Reporting Grace Period and Good Faith Relief

In a move akin to last-minute gift-giving, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (the “Departments”) released FAQ 56 on December 23, 2022, which provides relief regarding the Prescription Drug...

Blog

IRS Guidance Expands Access to ACA Premium Tax Credit, Allows Cafeteria Plan Sponsors to Permit Employees to Revoke Family Coverage Mid-year

Final Regulations under Section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code On October 11, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Final Regulations under Code Section 36B relating to eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s...

Blog

Next Steps for Making Collective Investment Trusts Available to More Retirement Plans

Collective investment trusts (“CITs”) have become an increasingly popular choice for 401(k) plan investment menus over the past decade, consistent with a trend toward lower-cost investment options that has been driven, in part, by...

Blog

When Cash is not King: Holiday Gifts as “De Minimis” Fringe Benefits

To celebrate the holiday season, this post highlights the tax consequences of employer-sponsored holiday perks such as gift cards, turkeys, hams and gift baskets. Under the current tax rules, employers may give infrequent low...

News

Verrill Named ‘Ceiling Smasher’ in Law360 Pulse’s 2022 Glass Ceiling Report: Women in Law

Matter

Advised Fortune 500 Company on Group Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

We were engaged by a Fortune 500 manufacturing company to provide legal and compliance services regarding its group health and welfare benefit plans. During the course of our representation, we have advised the company...

Contact Verrill at (855) 307 0700