FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
Karen L. Handorf

Karen L. Handorf

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC

Washington, DC, USA


Karen L. Handorf is a Partner at Cohen Milstein and Chair of the firm’s Employee Benefits (ERISA) Practice Group. She joined the firm in 2007 following a distinguished career in government service litigating ERISA cases in federal and district courts. In her role as head of the Employee Benefits Practice, Ms. Handorf represents the interests of employees, retirees, plan participants and beneficiaries in ERISA cases in the district courts and on appeal.

Ms. Handorf is involved in litigation and appeals involving a broad range of employee benefits issues. She currently leads a team of litigators in a series of lawsuits alleging that health care systems wrongfully claim their pension benefit plans are exempt from ERISA’s protection because they are church plans. Ms. Handorf is also litigating issues involving the selection of proprietary funds by 401(k) plans sponsored by financial institutions and imprudent and non-diversified investments by defined benefit plans. She also represents Oregon officials in a lawsuit alleging that a provision of the state’s OregonSaves retirement program for private-sector employees is preempted by ERISA.

Prior to joining Cohen Milstein, Ms. Handorf was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), where she litigated ERISA cases in federal and district courts for 25 years. While at the DOL, she played a major role in formulating the Government’s position on ERISA issues expressed in amicus briefs filed by the Solicitor General in the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Handorf is a recipient of the Department of Labor Distinguished Career Service Award and received Exceptional Achievement Awards for her work on ERISA 401(k) plan remedies, the amicus brief in the Enron litigation, retiree health care, the amicus program in general, the appellate brief in the Department’s Tower litigation, termination annuities litigation and multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWAs) litigation.

Ms. Handorf has been recognized for her expertise by her colleagues in the ERISA bar, who named her a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. She is a frequent speaker on ERISA issues for the ABA, various Bar associations and at private seminars. She serves as plaintiffs' co-chair of preemption subcommittee of the Employee Benefits Committee of the ABA's Labor Section. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, she was named to the Best Lawyers in America.

Ms. Handorf attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where she received a B.S. in Speech and History, and earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Karen L. Handorf is associated with the following items:
Web Segment  Web Segment Current ESOP Practice and Litigation - Pension Plan Investments 2018: Current Perspectives, Friday, May 18, 2018
ERISA Litigation Review - Pension Plan Investments 2018: Current Perspectives, Friday, May 18, 2018
MP3 Audio  MP3 Audio ERISA Litigation Review - ERISA Litigation Review, Friday, May 18, 2018
Current ESOP Practice and Litigation - Current ESOP Practice and Litigation, Friday, May 18, 2018
Transcripts  Transcripts Current ESOP Practice and Litigation - Current ESOP Practice and Litigation, Friday, May 18, 2018
ERISA Litigation Review - ERISA Litigation Review, Friday, May 18, 2018
MP4 - Mobile Video Seg  MP4 - Mobile Video Seg ERISA Litigation Review - ERISA Litigation Review, Friday, May 18, 2018
Current ESOP Practice and Litigation - Current ESOP Practice and Litigation, Friday, May 18, 2018
On-Demand Web Programs  On-Demand Web Programs Pension Plan Investments 2018: Current Perspectives, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, New York, NY
Live Seminar  Live Seminar Applying ERISA Fiduciary Rules to Health Plans, Services and Products 2019, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, New York, NY
Live Webcast  Live Webcast Applying ERISA Fiduciary Rules to Health Plans, Services and Products 2019, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, New York, NY
PLI Grpcast-Live Web  PLI Grpcast-Live Web Applying ERISA Fiduciary Rules to Health Plans, Services and Products 2019, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Columbus, OH
Applying ERISA Fiduciary Rules to Health Plans, Services and Products 2019, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Cleveland, OH
Applying ERISA Fiduciary Rules to Health Plans, Services and Products 2019, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, New Brunswick , NJ
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