Israel (Izzy) Goldowitz has more than 35 years of experience in employee benefits, most notably with mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, and bankruptcy as they affect pension plans. As the Chief Counsel for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), Izzy led the legal teams that helped save the pensions of such companies as Chrysler and American Airlines. Working closely with financial analysts, actuaries and outside advisors, he also led the legal teams that negotiated pension protections with such companies as Sears and Gannett, lending to his unique experience in the mitigation of risks to pensions resulting from corporate transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, secured borrowing and downsizing.
Izzy is a seasoned litigator who has helped establish several key precedents in the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals. Among them are decisions upholding mandatory arbitration of withdrawal liability claims, defining the rules for terminating single-employer plans and for related asset distributions, and confirming the application of ERISA in pension disputes in bankruptcy.
Izzy began his career with the United Mine Workers of America Health & Retirement Funds, a pioneering group of multiemployer plans. He was the lead PBGC attorney on multiemployer transactions, rulings and advice for many years, and most recently, oversaw that work as PBGC's Deputy General Counsel for Program Law and Policy. He has also had charge of several friend-of-court briefs that helped shape the law governing multiemployer plans.
While serving as Deputy General Counsel, Izzy also oversaw the development of regulations and other guidance for the PBGC single-employer and multiemployer insurance programs and advised Congress on legislative proposals affecting those programs. Additionally, he advised on retirement security in general, including new models for improving employee coverage while limiting employer cost and exposure.
Izzy is well known in the ERISA and bankruptcy community and to leaders in government, business, employee, and retiree associations, and academia. He is a frequent speaker and has written book chapters, articles, and continuing legal education materials on both employee benefits and bankruptcy topics. Izzy is a member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and is active in the International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association. He served on the Labor and Benefits Advisory Committee to the American Bankruptcy Institute's Chapter 11 Reform Commission and co-wrote the report of the pension subcommittee. Izzy has taught in the Georgetown University Law Center Masters of Law program since 1991 and is a member of the John Marshall Law School Employee Benefits Advisory Board. He earned his J.D. from George Washington University National Law Center and his B.A. in History from Boston University.
Publications & Media
- The Multiemployer Pension Rescue under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Taxpayer Dollars Well Spent – Israel Goldowitz, speaker, 16th Annual Colloquium on Scholarship in Employment and Labor Law (COSELL), Vanderbilt University, October 15 – 16, 2021 – Click here for details
- Qualified Plans And Executive Compensation Update – Co-panelist, American Bar Association Employee Benefits Spring Update 2021 webinar, June 9, 2021, 12 – 1:30 PM (EDT) – Click here for details and registration
- American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and Employee Benefit Plans: Next Steps for Plan Sponsors and Administrators – Co-panelist, Strafford CLE webinar, May 26, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 PM (EDT) – Click here for details and registration
- Multiemployer Pension Plans and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – Speaker, American Bar Association Business Law Virtual Spring Meeting, April 19 – 23, 2021 – Click here for details
- Employee Benefits: Defined Benefit Plan Update – Panelist, American Bar Association Virtual 2021 Midyear Tax Meeting, January 29, 2021 – Click here for details
- Trump’s Delphi Pension Pitch Raises Questions Over Who Will Pay – Bloomberg Law, October 27, 2020 (PDF)
- Public Pension Reform – Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville 2020 Colloquium on Scholarship in Employment and Labor Law, October 8 -10, 2020 – Click here for details
- Benefits Industry Newsmakers – BenefitsPro, September 7, 2020 (PDF)
- New Bankruptcy Provisions That Can Impact Clients- Izzy Goldowitz and Stephen Wilkes, Financial Experts Network, July 9, 2020 4:00 PM (EDT) – Click here to register
- The Biggest Benefits Rulings Of 2020: Midyear Report – Law360, June 30, 2020 (PDF)
- Defined Benefit Pension Issues Expected in the Next Wave of Bankruptcies – AIRA Journal Vol. 33 No. 1, May 2020
- Benefits Industry Newsmakers – BenefitsPro, April 28, 2020 (PDF)
- Judge’s Rulings Preserve McClatchy’s Timeline for Exiting Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – McClatchy’s USA, March 9, 2020 (PDF)
- How Threat of Bankruptcy Can Drive Pension Reform – Speaker, National National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems Annual Conference & Exhibition, May 10 – 13, 2020, Caesers Palace, Las Vegas, NV – More details here – CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19
- Merger, Divestiture and Acquisitions and Employee Benefits – Co-panelist with David Gabor, Mark Poerio and Roberta Watson, free webinar with Institutional Investment Consulting Inc., March 24, 2020, 2:00 PM (ET)
- Judge’s Rulings Preserve McClatchy’s Timeline for Exiting Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – McClatchy’s USA, March 9, 2020 (PDF)
- Pension Agency Questions About McClatchy’s Largest Lender Threaten to Slow Bankruptcy Process – McClatchy USA, February 14, 2020
- Employee Benefits Issues Prominent in Restructuring and Bankruptcy Cases – Bloomberg Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal, January 3, 2020, Vol. 48, No. 1
- Federal Pension Insurer Will Survive Collapsing Media Landscape – Bloomberg Law, December 10, 2019
- Employee Benefits Issues in Bankruptcy – Lead panelist, American Bar Association Section of Taxation 2020 Midyear Tax Meeting, January 30 – February 1, 2020, Boca Raton Resort, Boca Raton, FL – More details here
- Protecting Pensions in Bankruptcy – Speaker, The Alliance for Retired Americans seminar, November 19, 2019, AFL-CIO Building, Washington, D.C. – More details here
- BAP Agrees: No Bankruptcy for Puerto Rico Church Pension Plan – American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, July 2019
- Employee Well-Being (Financial, Health, and Workplace Equality) – Panelist, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, January 2 -5, 2020, Washington, D.C. – More details here
- Fall Benefits Briefing – Panelist Thomas Clark, Jr., Mark Poerio, Susan Rees, Stephen Wilkes, and guest, Chris Condeluci, The Wagner Law Group Free Webinar, September 25, 2019 – Recording available here
- Being Smart About M&A-Related Benefit Plan and Employment Issues – Co-panelist with David Gabor, Mark Poerio and Roberta Watson, The Wagner Law Group FREE webinar, June 11, 2019, 1:00 – 2:00 PM (ET) – Recording available here – PowerPoint slides available here
- The Plan Funding/Sustainability Dilemma. Can Retirement Plan Promises Be Broken? – speaker at the IPEBLA 17th Biennial Conference, May 19 – 22, 2019, Lisbon, Portugal – More Details Here
- PBGC Requests OMB Approval for Data Collection for ERISA Title IV Coverage Analysis – (Co-author, with Susan Rees) The Wagner Law Group Law Alert, , May 13, 2019
- Senate Confirms McConnell In-Law To Lead PBGC – Law360, April 30, 2016
- The Wagner Law Group Employee Benefits Briefing – co-presenter, with Dan Brandenburg, Canadace Quinn, Susan Rees and Stephen Wilkes FREE webinar, March 28, 2019, 1:00 – 2:00 PM (ET) – Recording available here – Powerpoint slides available here
- Benefits Industry Newsmakers – BenefitsPro, January 29, 2019
- Retirement Industry People Moves: Former PBGC Counsel Joins The Wagner Law Group – PlanAdivser, January 25, 2019
- PBGC’s Ex-Chief Counsel Retires, Joins Wagner Law Group – Law360, January 24, 2019
- Former Chief Counsel of PBGC, Israel Goldowitz, Joins Preeminent National Law Firm’s Washington, D.C. Office – Global Investing Today, January 23, 2019
- Israel Goldowitz Retires from PBGC – PBGC Press Office, January 23, 2019
- American University, Washington College of Law, Contemporary Labor Law Issues seminar (2018) (guest lecture on pension law and current issues).
- Seventh Annual Employee Benefits and Social Insurance National Conference, University of Oklahoma School of Law (2018) (multiemployer plan crisis).
- American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Inc., member teleconference (2018) (employee benefits in bankruptcy).
- Funding of Public Sector Pension Plans: What Can be Learned from the Private Sector? 23 University of Connecticut Insurance Law Journal 143 (2017).
- International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association Annual Conference, Prague (2017) (public pensions and bankruptcy; Nortel bankruptcy).
- Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, [email protected] conference, Chicago (2016) (trends in employee benefits).
- Fifth Annual Employee Benefits and Social Insurance National Conference, University of Connecticut Law School (2016); presented Funding of Public Sector Pensions: What can be Learned from the Private Sector?.
- The PBGC Wins a Case Whenever the Debtor Keeps its Pension Plan, 16 Marquette Benefits and Social Welfare Law Review 257 (2015) (co-author),
- International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association annual conference, Brussels (2015) (treatment of pensions in bankruptcy).
- American Law Institute symposium, The Law and Public Pensions, New York University Law School (2015) (ERISA funding rules and lessons for public plans).
- Canadian Bar Association/American Bar Association/International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association, Benefits without Borders, Chicago (2014).
- Response to Professor Paul Secunda’s Comparative Analysis of the Treatment of Employment Claims in Insolvency Proceedings and Guarantee Schemes in OECD Countries , 41 Fordham Urban Law Journal 1027 (2014).
- New York City Bar Association, Employee Benefits Section (2014) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- AFL-CIO, Secretary-Treasurers’ Annual Meeting, Washington (2014) (employee benefits in bankruptcy).
- Third Annual Employee Benefits, and Social Insurance National Conference, Marquette University Law School (2014); presented The PBGC Wins a Case Whenever the Debtor Keeps Its Pension Plan.
- The Conference Board, teleconference on treatment of employee benefits in bankruptcy in the U.S. and the U.K. (2014).
- Turnaround Management Association, Distressed Debt Conference, Toronto (2013) (employee benefits in bankruptcy).
- Legacy Liabilities and Municipal Financial Distress, Fordham Law School, Cooper-Walsh Colloquium (2013); presented Response to Professor Paul Secunda’s Comparative Analysis of the Treatment of Employment Claims in Insolvency Proceedings and Guarantee Schemes in OECD Countries.
- Second Annual Employee Benefits and Social Insurance National Conference, University of Michigan Ross School of Business (2013); presented closing remarks.
- “Pension Claims and ERISA,” in W. Norton III and W. Norton, Jr., Norton Bankruptcy Law & Practice (West) (co-author 2012 ed.).
- “Preemption and Removal,” in J. Zanglein, L. Frolik, and S. Stabile, ERISA Litigation (BNA Books) (2011 ed.).
- American Bar Association, Section of Taxation Annual Meeting, Washington (2011-15) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits webinar (2010) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- American Bar Association Joint CLE Meeting, Toronto (2010) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- Norton Institutes Western Mountains Bankruptcy Seminar, Jackson Hole, Wyo. (2010) (PBGC program as related to bankruptcy).
- “Special Rules for Multiemployer Plans,” in J. Zanglein, L. Frolik & S. Stabile, ERISA Litigation (BNA Books 2003 and 2005 eds.) (co-author 2009 and 2011 eds.).
- American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Chicago (2009) (PBGC program as related to bankruptcy).
- American Bankruptcy Institute Annual Meeting, Washington (2009) (ERISA liens).
- Boston Bar Association, Employee Benefits Committee (2009) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- Young ERISA Lawyers Group, Washington (2009) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- ERISA Roundtable, Washington (2008) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, Washington (2008) (PBGC’s multiemployer program).
- International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, San Antonio (2008) (PBGC’s multiemployer program).
- Regulators’ Perspective: Handling Distress Terminations in Bankruptcy, American Bankruptcy Institute, Pensions and Benefits in Bankruptcy Committee Newsletter (June 2006).
- American Bankruptcy Institute, Winter Leadership Conference, Scottsdale, Ariz. (2006) (PBGC program as related to bankruptcy).
- Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, Detroit (2006) (PBGC program as related to bankruptcy).
- William J. O’Neill Great Lakes Regional Bankruptcy Institute, Cleveland (2006) (PBGC program as related to bankruptcy).
- Turnaround Management Association, Cleveland Chapter, (2005) (PBGC’s risk mitigation programs).
- University of Texas Bankruptcy Law Conference, Austin (2005) (PBGC program as related to bankruptcy).
- ERISA and Bankruptcy: A Comfortable Coexistence?, American Bankruptcy Institute Journal (Dec. 2004).
- Allegheny County Bar Association Bankruptcy Symposium, Pittsburgh (2003) (PBGC program as related to bankruptcy).
- Claims Allowance in Bankruptcy: A Federal Common Law vs. Nonbankruptcy Law, 11 Norton Bankruptcy Law Adviser 7 (1999).
- Real and Apparent Conflicts between ERISA and the Bankruptcy Code, 11 Norton Bankruptcy Law Adviser 3 (1996) (co-author).
- D.C. Bar, Labor and Employment Law Section (1995) (PBGC litigation).
- The Controlled Group Rule for Purposes of the Withdrawal Liability Provisions of ERISA, 90 W. Va. L. Rev. 773 (1988) (co-author).
Classes & Seminars
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Adjunct Professor, 1991 - Present
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Co-Teach Employee Benefits Survey, 2016 - Present
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Co-Teach International Bankruptcy, 2011 - 2015
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Co-Teach Introduction to Employee Benefits Law, 2008 - 2015
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Co-Teach ERISA: Plan Termination and Withdrawal Liability, 1991 - 2010
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Guest Lecturer, Human Rights at The Intersection Of Trade And Corporate Responsibility, 2013
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Guest Lecturer, Employee Benefits Issues in Bankruptcy, 2009, 2010
- George Washington University National Law Center, Washington, District of Columbia
- J.D. - 1979
- Boston University, College of Liberal Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
- B.A. - 1975
- Honors: cum laude
- Major: U.S. History
- New York
- District of Columbia, 1979
- U.S. District Court
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
- American Bar Association Section of Taxation, Employee Benefits Committee Define Benefit Plan Subcommittee, Vice Chair, 2019
- American College of Employee Benefits Counsel Inc., member, Board of Governors (2015-present); Secretary (2017-present); member and chair, Law Student Outreach Committee (2014-17); judge, first annual Employee Benefits Moot Court, Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law (2018)
- John Marshall Law School, Member, Employee Benefits Advisory Board, 2017 - Present
- Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, American University, Washington College of Law, high-school student moot court judge, 2016
- D.C. Bar/GULC Street Law Program, Thurgood Marshall Academy (Charter High School), Substitute Teacher, 2016
- American Bankruptcy Law Journal, Peer Reviewer, 2014 - Present
- American Bankruptcy Institute, Commission To Study The Reform Of Chapter 11, Member, Labor And Benefits Advisory Committee, 2012 - 2014
- Washington Literacy Council, Tutor, 2007 - 2012
- Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School Of Government, Mastering Negotiation: Building Sustainable Agreements, 2007
- Federal Sharing Neutrals Program, Co-Mediator, 2003 - 2013
- National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Expert Witness Trial Advocacy, 1997
- Fellow, Council for Excellence In Government, 1996 - 1997
- Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., Adjunct Professor (1991-present).
- Best Lawyers - 2020
- Georgetown University, Vicennial Award (2013)
- PBGC Distinguished Career Service Award (2012)
- Fellow, American College of Employee Benefits Counsel (inducted 2001)
- PBGC Meritorious Service Award LTV Steel bankruptcy and termination (2003)
- PBGC Meritorious Service Award Amicus brief in Bay Area Laundry Pension Trust Fund v. Ferbar (1998) (on statute of limitations in withdrawal liability cases)
- PBGC Meritorious Service Award Damages study in Page/Collins v. PBGC (1994)
- PBGC General Counsel’s Award, Attorney of the Year (1997)