The Wagner Law Group | Est. 1996

Sophisticated Legal Solutions Boutique-Style Service


Russell Gaudreau is a partner at The Wagner Law Group. He consults with clients on a wide variety of issues regarding tax-qualified retirement plans, 403(b) and 457 plans, nonqualified deferred compensation, split-dollar life insurance arrangements and executive compensation.

His clients include for-profit as well as tax-exempt employers, and he practices regularly before the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Additionally, Russ advises clients on employee benefit issues involving mergers and acquisitions, fiduciary responsibilities, prohibited transaction issues, executive compensation, and benefit programs for tax-exempt entities.

Prior to The Wagner Law Group, Russ was a partner in the Tax & Benefits Department at Ropes & Gray, where he headed the firm's employee benefits consulting and actuarial practice. While there, he concentrated on retirement plan and executive compensation matters.

Russ also served as the managing partner of Ropes & Gray's Washington, DC office where he developed a significant employee benefits practice and frequently obtained private letter rulings, closing agreements, and advisory opinions from the IRS and the DOL.

Publications & Media


  • Non Competition Provisions in Nonqualified Plan: Have the Courts Put Away the Blue Pencil?”, Journal of Deferred Compensation Nonqualified Plans and Executive Compensation, Volume 2, Number 3, Spring 1997



  • New York University School of Law, New York, New York
    • LL.M - 1969
    • Major: Tax Law
  • Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts
    • J.D. - 1968
    • Honors: cum laude
  • University of Massachusetts
    • B.A. - 1965

Classes & Seminars

  • “Pension, Profit-Sharing and Other Deferred Compensation Plans,” Boston University School of Law Graduate Tax Program (1981 - present), 1981 to Present
  • "Retirement Income: Taxation and Regulation," Georgetown University Law Center (1991 - present), 1991 to Present
  • Getting Your Frozen Plan Out of Neutral, “Compliance and Legal Perspective,” Cassidy Retirement Group, June 7, 2011, 2011
  • De-Risking Retirement Plans, “Lifetime Income,” New England Employee Benefits Council , April 15, 2011, 2011
  • “Making Defined Contribution Plans More Effective,” “What you need to know about 401 k’s,” Mass Bio Tech Council (June 23, 2010; January 20, 2011), 2010 to 2011
  • Panel, “The Future of the Legal Profession,” Suffolk University Law School (October 29, 2009)
  • “Basic Law of Pensions, Welfare Plans & Deferred Compensation,” ALI-ABA (1995 – 2006)
  • “NonQualified Plans – Solutions and Trends in Executive Benefits Vision 2000 Client Conference,” Vanguard (October 5-6, 2000)
  • “Federal Employee Benefits & Tax-Exempt Organizations Association,” Federal Bar (March 1999)
  • “National Association of Government Deferred Compensation Administrators,” Fidelity Investments Institutional Services (September 1998)
  • "Providing Services to ERISA Plans: Recent Legal Developments Affecting Financial Institutions,” Massachusetts Bankers Association (October 1997, April 1998)
  • “Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Arrangements,” Southern Federal Tax Institute (September 1996)
  • “Regulatory Compliance Issues for Non-Profit Institutions,” Fidelity Investments Tax-Exempt Services (December 1994)
  • “ERISA Overview,” Massachusetts Bankers Association (October 1994)
  • “Section 403(b) Compliance Issues; New IRS Audit Guidelines,” ALI-ABA (October 1994)
  • “The use of IRAs, SEPs, Master/Prototype and Volume Submitter Plans and Fiduciary Responsibility under ERISA,” ALI-ABA (July 1994)
  • “$150,000 Limit,” Investment Company Institute (March 1994)
  • “Compensating Executives: The Expanding Role of Benefits,” New England Employee Benefits Council, Inc. (February 1994)
  • “Providing Retiree Medical Benefits in Conjunction with a Qualified Profit Sharing Plan,” American Bar Association Section of Taxation (February 1993)
  • “Impact of 404(c) and Other New Regulations on Retirement Wealth Accumulation,” State Street Research & Management Company (October 1992)
  • “Post Retirement Health Care,” State Street Bank and Trust (October 1992)
  • “Basic Law of Pensions and Deferred Compensation,” ALI-ABA (July 1992)
  • “Post-Retirement Health Care Benefits,” Institute for International Research (May 15, 1992; June 16, 1992)
  • “Age Weighted Retirement Plans,” New England Employee Benefits Council (December 1991)
  • “Reproposed Regulations under Section 404(c) of ERISA,” Institute for International Research Conference on Defined Benefit Plan (January 12, 1991; October 16, 1991; November 19, 1991)
  • “Age Weighted Retirement Plans,” Investment Company Institute (November 1991)
  • “Fiduciary Responsibility under ERISA; The Use of IRAs, SEPs Master/Prototype and Volume Submitter Plans,” ALI-ABA Course of Study, “Basic Law of Pensions and Deferred Compensation” (July 3, 1991)
  • “Participant Directed Individual Account Plans under Section 404(c) of ERISA,” Institute for International Research Fourth Annual Conference on Defined Contribution Plans (February 1991)
  • “Non Qualified Deferred Compensation,” Institute for International Research Third Annual Conference On Defined Contribution Plans (October 1990)
  • “Benefits Provided to Employees during Retirement Years,” New England Banking Institute (September 13, 1989; September 26, 1990)
  • “Non Qualified Deferred Compensation,” Institute for International Research (September 1990)
  • “Fiduciary Responsibility Under ERISA: Where Does it Begin, Where Does it End?,” ALI-ABA Course of Study Basic Law of Pensions and Deferred Compensation (July 3-7, 1989; July 11, 1990)
  • “’Hot’ Issues for Group Practices,” Medical Group Financial Services, Inc. (January 12, 1990; May 18, 1990)
  • “Use of a Qualified Profit-Sharing Plan to provide Post-Retirement Medical Benefits,” Fidelity Investments (May 1990)
  • “Retirement Plans Untangled,” MCLE-NELI (May 1990)
  • “Washington Legislative Update,” International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (May 7-9, 1990)
  • “Benefits Issues – Washington Update,” Fidelity Investments (March 1990)
  • “Non Qualified Deferred Compensation,” Institute for International Research (February 1990)
  • “Retirement Plans Untangled Basic Retirement Plan Issues for the Non-Specialist,” MCLE-NELI (April 1987, February 1990)
  • “Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation,” Bentley College 12th National Institute on Federal Taxation (January 1990)
  • Future of Employee Benefits-A Look Into the 1990’s,” State Street Bank and Trust – Defined Contribution Plan Client Conference (September 1989)
  • “Legal Problems with 401(k) Loan Provisions,” Institute for International Research Defined Contribution Plans Seminar (February 27, 1989; September 14, 1989)
  • “Employee Benefits in Massachusetts,” National Business Institute, Inc. (May 1989)
  • “The Future of Employee Benefits: A Look Into the 1990’s,” Fidelity Investments 5th Annual National Corporate Client Conference (May 1989)
  • “Qualified Plans and Fringe Benefits,” Bentley College 11th National Institute on Federal Taxation (January 4-5, 1989)
  • “Employee Benefit Considerations for Implementing Tax Reform,” CUPA National Conference (August 1987)
  • “Retirement Plans Untangled,” MCLE-NELI (April 1987)
  • “Employee Benefits after Tax Reform,” Bentley Tax Seminar (January 1987)
  • “Pensions and Deferred Compensation,” Massachusetts Association of Public Accountants (December 2-9, 1986)
  • “Labor and Employee Benefits,” R&G Labor Department Seminar (October 1986)
  • “Health Law Seminar,” Northwestern University (September 1986)
  • “Executive Benefits,” R&G Labor Department Seminar (May 1986)
  • “Employee Benefits Forum,” New England Business Magazine (March 11, 1986)
  • “Current Legislation Affecting Employee Benefits,” Bentley College Federal Tax Institute (January 1986)
  • “Basic Benefits Course,” New England Employee Benefits Council (October 1985)
  • “Pension Issues,” Massachusetts Bankers Association (October 1985)
  • “Health Law,” R&G Health Law Seminar (September 1983)
  • “Estate Planning,” Colby College Seminar (July 1983)
  • “Pension Withholding,” Massachusetts Bankers Association (January 1983)
  • Panel Discussion, Bentley Tax Institute (January 1983)
  • MAPA Tax Conference (December 7, 1982)
  • “401(k) Issues,” New England Employee Benefits Council (October 1982)
  • American Management Association Conference (May 19, 1981)
  • Bentley Tax Institute (January 5, 1981)
  • “Pension Course,” Bentley College (1978-1980)
  • Massachusetts Bankers Association (September 26, 1980)
  • New England Employee Benefits Council (May 28, 1980)
  • “Current Problems with Simplified Employee Pensions,” Bentley College 2nd Institute on Federal Taxation (January 1980)
  • “IRA Issues,” MCLE-NELI Conference (February 1979)
  • “Pension Issues,” Vermont Bar Association (May 1978)
  • “Profit-Sharing Issues,” Profit-Sharing Council of America Conference (October 1977)
  • “ERISA,” Boston University (November 1976)
  • “ERISA,” New York University (March 1976)

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts, 1968
  • District of Columbia, 1991
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association (Committee on Employee Benefits of the Tax Section), Member
  • Boston Bar Association, Member
  • District of Columbia Bar (Employee Benefits Tax Study Group, Employee Benefits Committee, ERISA Committee)
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Employee Benefits Committee)
  • New England Employee Benefits Council, Director and founder
  • Boston University School of Law Graduate Tax Program, Long-time faculty member
  • Parents' & Children's Services, Director and former President
  • Washington DC Bar (Employee Benefits Tax Study Group, Employee Benefits Committee, ERISA Committee)
  • American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Founding member
  • Georgetown University Law Center faculty, Member
  • American Law Institute of the American Bar Association faculty, Member
  • Trustee, Suffolk University
  • Director, Beacon Hill Civic Association
  • Former Director and Board Chair, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay


  • Who's Who in American Law
  • New England’s Best Lawyers
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers List, New England Super Lawyers Magazine
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business
  • Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition
  • Who's Who in America
  • Greater Boston Employee Benefits Lawyer of the Year
  • Marquis Who's Who: Arthur Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018
  • Who's Who in American Education
  • Who's Who in the East
  • Who's Who in the World

Past Positions

  • Ropes & Gray LLP, Partner, 1970 to 2008