Boutwell Fay LLP 
1401 Dove Street, Suite 540
Newport Beach, CA 92660


d. (949) 660-0484


Irvine III

Sherrie Boutwell


Sherrie Boutwell has focused for thirty years in the areas of employee benefits law and ERISA, with an emphasis on retirement and deferred compensation plans. She advises and counsels a broad range of clients, including employers, employees, plan fiduciaries, financial institutions, government agencies and trade associations, on a wide range of employee benefits matters.  Sherrie has extensive experience and is a highly sought after speaker and writer on employee benefits topics.

Sherrie has represented clients before the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Department of Labor, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, arbitrators from the American Arbitration Association and the United States District Court with respect to employee benefits issues.  Sherrie has experience working with the unique deferred compensation issues that arise in the non-profit and governmental employer arena and also has many years of experience in the design and operation of non-qualified executive deferred compensation plans including the requirements under Section 409A of the Code.

Sherrie takes pride in bringing a practical and down to earth approach to resolving complex benefits issues involving qualified plans, non-qualified plans and health and welfare plans.

Representative Speeches:

  • 403(b) Update for 2017: Pre-Approved Plan Documents and More, Co-Presented Webinar with Evan Giller, June 2017

  • DC Delegation, Presentation to the IRS; NTA; DOT; HWMC; AND SFC, May 2017

  • Everything You NEVER Wanted to Know About Employee Benefits Plans (But Will Someday Wish You Did), with Alison Fay , 89th Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California, October 2016

  • Orange County Bar Association:

    • Fun With Section 409A and Other Executive Compensation Frivolities, March 2018

    • ERISA for the Non-ERISA Tax Lawyer: 10 Things Your Clients Wish You Knew About ERISA, with Venessa Blanco, October 2016

    • Top Ten Benefits Issues for Transactional Attorneys, July 2014

    • Don’t Let the ERISA Train Derail Your Deal, September 2012

  • National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms:

    • ERISA Aspects of Whistleblower Claims and the Enforceability of Arbitration Agreements Under ERISA, Co-Panelist, February 2017

    • The DOL’s Proposed New Definition of Plan Fiduciary, February 2016

    • Closing the Deal: How to Spot & Handle the Top Employee Benefits Issues in an M&A Transaction, September 2014

  • Western Benefits Conference (Annual Meetings): 

    • 10 Things the DOL Investigator Does Not Want You to Know, September 2016

    • Governmental Correction Programs: How to Negotiate with the DOL, IRS, PBGC, with Ilene H. Ferenczy, July 2016

    • Health & Welfare Audits On the Rise – What You Need to Know, July 2014

    • Let’s Make a Deal: Employee Benefit Plans in Merger and Acquisitions and Bankruptcy, July 2013

    • The New EPCRS Procedures, with Avaneesh Bhagat, July 2013

    • New EPCRS Procedures, with Avaneesh Bhagat, July 2012

  • Western Pension & Benefits Council (Local Chapters):

    • EPCRS – Advanced Case Studies & Nightmares of Plan Administration, including Fiduciary Pitfalls, July 2017

    • New Rules for Mid-Year Changes to Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans, with Alison Fay, May 2016

    • DOL Health & Welfare Audits are on the Rise – What You Need to Know, May 2015

    • Employee Benefits Issues in M&A Transactions, Denver, January 2015

    • Tips for Handling Missing Participants, Uncashed Checks and Plan Loans, with Avaneesh Bhagat, San Diego, April 2014

    • New EPCRS Procedures, with Avaneesh Bhagat, Orange County, February 2013

    • Retirement Plan Compliance Issues in a Down Economy, Orange County, March 2012

    • Best Practices to Prevent 401(k) Litigation, Co-Presenter, Orange County, October 2011

    • Take Back That Pension Plan! Avoiding the “Heartbreak” of Plan Disqualification Through EPCRS, with Avaneesh Bhagat, Orange County, February 2011

    • Lessons from the Trenches: 10 Things the DOL Investigator Does Not Want You to Know, Denver, April 2012

    • Retirement Plan Compliance Issues in a Down Economy, San Diego, October 2011

  • Orange County Chapter, National Institute of Pension Administrators:

    • DOL Investigations and ERISA Litigation, Co-Presenter, June 2014

    • DOL Faceoff: A Behind the Scenes Look at DOL Investigations, Co-Presenter, November 2012

  • Virtual Conference:

    • Lessons from Tussey v. ABB, Inc. – Best Practices to Avoid/Handle 401(k) Benefit Claims or Litigation, May 2012



  • Does Your Health and Welfare Plan Need A Trust?, Journal of Pension Benefits, Volume 26 Number 1, Autumn 2018.

  • The (ACA) Tax Man Cometh: Disputing Proposed Employer Mandate Penalties Under the ACA, Journal Of Pension Benefits,  Volume 25 Number 3, Spring 2018.

  • Navigating Common Plan Deficiencies and Corrections, OC NIPA, April 2018

  • Fun With Section 409A and Other Executive Compensation Frivolities, OCBA Tax Law Section’s March Meeting, March 2018

  • Making It Rain: Stacey McConnell, ABA Women Rainmakers, February 2018

  • Be the Missing Piece: Marketing You Niche Law Practice, Law Practice Today, November 2017

  • Proposed Changes for the Operation of Employee Annuities, Tax Notes, Volume 157, Number 8

  • Everything You Never Wanted to Know About ERISA: A “Cheat Sheet” for the Non-ERISA Business Lawyer, CEB’s California Business Law Practitioner (Volume 32 Number 3, Summer 2017)

  • Lesson Learned: A Summary of 2016 Federal Health & Welfare Cases, Journal of Pension Benefits, Spring 2017

  • How the New Fiduciary Definition Will Affect Health & Welfare Plans, Journal of Pension Benefits, Winter 2017

  • 2016 Brings New ERISA Risks in M&A Transactions: Steps to Take Before you Next Deal, NAMWOLF, February 2016

  • Retirement Plan Errors – How to Prevent and Correct Errors in 2016: An Update, Knowledge Group, November 2015

  • R=(CC OR ASG)^2: The Risk of Relativity (Controlled/Affiliated Service Groups), ABA, LPT, October 2015

  • What Pension professionals Need to Know Now About the Affordable Care Act and Health and Welfare Plans, Journal of Pension Benefits, Spring 2015

  • Health and Welfare Issues (chapter update), Employee Benefits in Mergers & Acquisitions, Ilene H. Ferenczy, Wolters Kluwer, 2014

  • Handling Pension Plans in M&A Transactions after Sun Capital Partners, NAMWOLF Newsletter, June 2014

  • Fixing Broken Retirement Plans Under New IRS Procedures, Society of Financial Service Professionals Journal of Financial Service Professionals, July 2013 Vol. 67, No. 4

  • Don’t Let the ERISA Train Derail the Deal: 7 Simple Steps to Help Minimize ERISA Liabilities in an M&A Transaction,The State Bar of California Business Law News Issue 2 2012.

  • Western Pension & Benefits Council Orange County Chapter Newsletters:

    • When EPCRS Isn’t Enough: New Walk-In CAP Policy Established by IRS, February 2014

    • What Employers Need to Know About the New Retirement Plan Fee Disclosure Rules, Co-Author, January 2012

    • Painting the Roses Red: The New Code Section 409A Corrections Program – Transition Relief Available Until December 31, 2010, Co-Author, September 2010

    • The Billion Dollar Typo: What Plans Need to Know Now About Scrivener’s Errors Under ERISA, Co-Author, January 2010

  • Quick Reference to Plan Corrections: Correcting Pension Plans with EPCRS and VFCP, Panel Publishers, 2000-2003

  • The 401(k) Advisor, Panel Publishers, 1994-2000, regular contributing editor



    • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated Martindale Hubbell (since 1999)

    • Attorney Journal Orange County Magazine: Niche Practitioner of the Month (June 2014)

    • “OC Top Attorney” in employment-management, OC Metro (list compiled by AVVO), 2014

    • FORTUNE Magazine: Top-Rated Lawyer in Labor & Employment Law (2013)

    • Expert Guides: World’s Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers (2013)

    • Corporate Counsel and The American Lawyer – Top Rated Lawyers for Labor & Employment Law (US) (2012)



    • The State Bar of California, Tax Section

    • American Bar Association, Tax Section, LPM Division, Women Rainmakers Sub-Committee

    • Western Pension & Benefits Council, Orange County and Denver Chapters

    • Board Member, Orange County Chapter of the National Institute of Pension Administrators

    • NAMWOLF Development Committee; Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Meeting Subcommittee

    • American College of Employee Benefits Counsel; Fellow



    • 1983, California

    • 1984, U.S. District Court, Central District of  California and U.S. Tax Court


Law School:

    • University of California, Los Angeles, J.D., 1983

    • Member, UCLA/Alaska Law Review, 1982-1983



    • University of California, Irvine, B.A., magna cum laude, 1979

Highrise Networks, Inc.

800 S. Figueroa, Suite 925

Los Angeles, CA 90017

(213) 712-9080