Lee T. Polk
When corporate management and benefit plan fiduciaries need a highly experienced counselor to represent their interests in employment and compensation, tax, litigation, corporate planning, fiduciary responsibilities, or plan administration matters, they turn to attorney Lee Polk.
Lee is adept at representing clients in business transactions and dealings with government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Clients value Lee's five decades of employee benefits law experience, particularly in the area of ERISA, and his flexible-minded approach, which is calculated to lead to the most sensible course of action in achieving their goals.
Lee's clients include businesses of every size, in virtually every industry, and in locations primarily in the eastern areas of the United States. He helps clients design, establish, administer, and terminate pension and welfare plans under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. Clients appreciate Lee's thoughtfulness and experience in handling issues calling for creative problem solving.
Senior management rely on Lee to help them stay compliant with federal regulatory requirements in the areas of compensation and employee benefits, create sound workforce policies that they can effectively administer, and prudently deal with parties who may approach management policies in an adversarial manner. When disputes arise, Lee represents senior management (and plan fiduciaries) in employee benefits disputes, litigation, and arbitration, involving both single-employer and multiemployer plans.
Lee is a past chair of the Qualified Plans Committee of the American Bar Association's Section of Real Property Probate & Trust Law. He is a charter fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is past chair of the Chicago Bar Association's Employee Benefit Committee and past chair of the Midwest Pension Conference. He has spoken at meetings of various business and governmental organizations, including at the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Currently, Lee serves on the board of the Benefits Law Journal, published by Wolters Kluwer. He has also served on various not-for-profit boards, including Heartland Alliance, a large social service agency, and Friends of Battered Women and Their Children, as well as organizing committees for alumni of his law school, college, and high school.
Outside of the office, Lee's has played in the Chicago North Men's Senior Baseball League (wooden bat), and also enjoys handball, scuba diving, camping, and canoeing.
- Helped a large grocery chain reach a settlement in connection with an unavoidable multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability during arbitration proceedings. Lee successfully resolved the issue of the employer's significant withdrawal liability to the pension plan.
- Reduced costs for a large service agency's pension plan liabilities by offering retirees a lump-sum option for their outstanding pensions and also by reducing the cost of premiums owed to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Lee coordinated with the client's management team and outside actuaries to articulate an attractive pension "buy out" to retirees.
- Prevailed on an executive's claims after a full trial on the merits and a successful defense of the trial outcome in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The executive had taken a new job with a securities firm whose owner misappropriated the executive's retirement benefit after it was rolled over to the new firm's retirement plan. Lee sued the new firm's owner and its CFO at trial and defended the successful outcome in the appellate court.
- Maintained a law firm's retirement plans in compliance with special plan structures covering partners, associates, and staff, including acquisition of a smaller law firm. Lee navigated the client firm through business and regulatory challenges to achieve an optimum retirement plan outcome. He put the firm in a favorable position to continue its successful law practice.
Publications & Media
- Retirement Industry People Moves – Lee Polk, PLANADVISER, March 3, 2023 (PDF.
- The Wagner Law Group Grows its Chicago Office With the Addition of Attorney Lee T. Polk – March 1, 2023
- Financial Assistance to Troubled Multiemployer Pension Plans: Initial ARPA Regulation – Co-author, September 7, 2021
- ARPA’s Impact on Multiemployer Pension Plans and Contributing Employers – Co-author, April 26, 2021
- Fiduciary Litigation Involving Defined Benefit Plans: What to Make of Thole v. US Bank – Benefits Law Journal
- After the Victory Lap: The To-Do List for Plan Sponsors on the Passing of SECURE 2.0 – Panelist, Institutional Investor Defined Contribution Forum, Chicago, IL, April 18 – 19, 2023 – Click here for details
- Withdrawal Liability Assessments: Employee Benefits Crash Course Webinar Series April 6, 2020
- Collective Bargaining in a Time of Change: Right-to-Work Laws, the Affordable Care Act, and Multiemployer Pension Withdrawal Liability, September 20, 2013
- Preparing for Change in the Collective Bargaining Process: Health Reform and Multiemployer Pension Withdrawal Liability, June 27, 2013
- Preparing for Change in the Collective Bargaining Process: Health Reform and Multiemployer Pension Withdrawal Liability, June 6, 2013
- Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated
- The Best Lawyers in America©, in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law and Labor Law—Management (1996, 2008 to 2023), and 2017 edition, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law “Lawyer of the Year,” Chicago
- Illinois Super Lawyers list (2005, 2006, 2008 to 2023) in Employee Benefits, Business/Corporate, and Employment & Labor: Employer
- Leading Lawyers in Employee Benefits Law (2003 to 2021)
- University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, Illinois
- J.D. - 1970
- Coe College
- B.A. - 1967
- Honors: With Honors
- American Bar Association, Member, 1970 to Present
- Chicago Bar Association, Member, 1970 to Present
- Illinois State Association, Member, 1970 to Present
- Illinois, 1970
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 1983
- U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- U. S. Court of Military Appeals
- U.S. District Court District of Minnesota
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Tennessee
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 1970
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Indiana
- U.S. Tax Court, 1986