Jorge Leon Photo

Jorge M. Leon

Partner
Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Overview

Jorge is skilled at successfully managing and staffing the full service benefit and compensation needs of clients ranging from small operations to large multinational companies. Clients have entrusted Jorge and his team to oversee the design and administration of their health and welfare programs, executive compensation arrangements, and retirement plans. 

Plan sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries, and third-party recordkeepers turn to Jorge for strategic counsel on designing, establishing, and maintaining benefit and compensation plans. Clients laud his responsiveness and meticulous approach to matters ranging from plan establishment and design to government investigations and inquiries, ongoing compliance and qualification, ERISA litigation, and mergers and acquisitions.

Before joining Michael Best, Jorge practiced for 15 years at a premiere Chicago-based AmLaw 100 firm, where he was the lead partner for qualified plan matters. He brings a strong record of successful outcomes, an uncompromising level of service, and improved cost efficiency to his current practice.

Deep knowledge, broad experience

Jorge is well versed in the intricacies of 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), and defined benefit plans. Within the benefit and compensation arena, his practice includes:

  • Negotiating ERISA 3(21) and 3(38) investment advisor/manager agreements, as well as the benefit aspects of sizable corporate transactions
  • Counseling clients on the administrative, design, legal, and testing considerations of recordkeeping conversions
  • Negotiating third-party recordkeeping agreements relating to plans holding between $1 million to $5 billion in assets
  • Supervising the transition of insurers/claims administrators for health and welfare plans
  • Restructuring health and welfare plans to achieve cost efficiencies and legal compliance
 
  • Resolving various audit, administrative, and compliance issues involving qualification, fiduciary, and reporting issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)
  • Designing fiduciary policies and internal controls for plan sponsors, fiduciaries, and administrators
  • Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP), and prohibited transactions
  • Counseling clients on design options for safe harbor plans, including 401(k)(12), and Qualified Automatic Contribution Arrangements (QACA)
  • Advising employer-trustees in establishing and maintaining Taft-Hartley plans
  • Advising public, privately-held and higher education clients on various qualification, correctible and administrative issues and plan communication strategies
  • Advising hedge fund and venture capital clients on the ERISA plan asset rules

Experience

Advising a major municipality

Jorge is counseling the largest municipal employer in Illinois on the design and fiduciary aspects of its 457(b) plan, with over $4 billion in assets.

Breaking new ground in ERISA issues

When a then-unknown plaintiff law firm targeted numerous large employers and plans with class actions claiming excessive fees and mismanagement of 401(k) plans, Jorge provided subject matter advice to both a client and their litigation team on this seminal ERISA action, resulting in the parties reaching a mutually agreeable settlement. Ultimately, the DOL stepped in with a new set of groundbreaking fee disclosure rules under ERISA.

Taking on the IRS

Jorge mounted a successful defense of a client’s safe harbor 401(k) plan with approximately $4 billion in assets and more than 30,000 participants during an IRS audit that resulted in no penalties being assessed. He is currently representing a client before the IRS on complicated leased employee and related nondiscrimination testing issues where there is no existing regulatory guidance.

Advocating for changes to COBRA/State Spousal Continuation Coverage

Jorge’s counsel in regard to a large health insurer’s spousal health continuation obligations led to a change in systems and procedures on a statewide basis, benefiting thousands of spouses who were entitled to health coverage after their partners terminated employment.

Other notable representations include:

  • Successfully defended a client’s 403(b) plan during a DOL audit, which resulted in the assessment of minimal penalties
  • Converted recordkeepers for defined contribution plans holding approximately $8 billion in assets
  • Represented clients during PBGC investigations relating to reportable events, resulting in the successful close of acquisitions and changes in controlled groups
  • Assessed the merits of settlement strategies for various alleged ERISA fiduciary breach lawsuits
  • Handled benefit aspects of the $200 million sale of an IT service provider
  • Handled benefit aspects of a purchaser’s $825 million acquisition of an information systems group
  • Handled benefit aspects of multimillion-dollar acquisitions and divestitures of various manufacturing clients 

Honors & Recognitions

  • Recognized Practitioner, Employee Benefits & Compensation, Chambers USA, 2016-2017
  • Top Latino Lawyers, Latino Leaders magazine, 2016

Professional Activities

  • Michael Best Diversity & Inclusion Committee, 2014-Present
  • Chair, Lawyers & Engineers Advancing Diversity (LEAD), Michael Best, 2014-Present
  • In-House Counsel Committee, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, 2014-Present
  • Advisor on Employee Benefits, Program Committee of the Board of Directors, American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education, 2008-2016
  • Legal Referral Coordinator, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, 2007-2009
  • Financial Director, Zeta Corporation, 1998-2011

Education

Admissions

Language

Community Involvement

  • Member, Economic Club of Chicago
  • Board of Directors, Gads Hill Center
  • Gala Committee, Gads Hill Center, 2015, 2016
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