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

Blog

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2021 Summer Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF. This Client Advisory summarizes developments in the law governing employee benefit plans prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We explain what these developments mean for plan sponsors and...

Blog

Retirement Plan Administrators: Are You Ready to Comply with the New Lifetime Income Disclosure Requirement for Benefit Statements?

Lifetime Income Disclosure Requirement . The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the “SECURE Act”), enacted December 20, 2019, added a new annual disclosure requirement for benefit statements to participants...

Blog

Revenue Procedure 2021-30: A New and (Further) Improved EPCRS

The Internal Revenue Service has updated the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) in several respects that will be helpful to retirement plan sponsors. Revenue Procedure 2021-30 , published July 16, 2021, replaces the...

Blog

Recent Court Decisions Extend the Statute of Limitations for Breach of Fiduciary Duty Lawsuits under ERISA

ERISA Fiduciary Duties and Liability Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”), a plan fiduciary must (i) act prudently, for the exclusive purposes of providing benefits to plan participants...

Blog

IRS Issues Guidance Clarifying the Application of COVID-19 Outbreak Period Extensions for Electing COBRA Continuation Coverage and Paying COBRA Premiums

On October 6, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-58 , providing helpful guidance on COBRA continuation coverage in two key areas: (1) the application of the extended timeframes for electing COBRA continuation coverage and...

Blog

Thoughts on the DOL’s Proposed ESG Regulation

Publication/Podcast

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2021 Summer Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF. This Client Advisory summarizes developments in the law governing employee benefit plans prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We explain what these developments mean for plan sponsors and...

Blog

Self-Insured Group Health Plan Sponsors: Action Steps to Mitigate Risk Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”) provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”) introduced a requirement that group health plans and insurance providers offering both medical and surgical benefits (“M/S...

News

65 Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2022, Including Eight Named Lawyers of the Year

(August 31, 2021) – 65 Verrill attorneys were recognized as "Best Lawyers" by Best Lawyers® 2022 , including 8 attorneys named “Lawyer of the Year,” a distinguished recognition for only a single lawyer in...

Publication/Podcast

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2020 Year-End Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF . This Client Advisory highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for...

Contact Verrill at (855) 307 0700