Rich Birmingham has over 40 years of experience in both employee benefit consulting and ERISA litigation. He is one of the few lawyers in the country who is listed in "Best Lawyers in America" in two employee benefit categories—ERISA law and ERISA litigation. Rich's command of both the substantive and litigation areas of ERISA enable him to give practical proactive advice when consulting with clients and to obtain early dismissal or settlement when litigating ERISA matters. Rich is a frequent speaker at employee benefit seminars and has published numerous articles and client advisories on a wide variety of employee benefit issues.
Rich assists clients through the entire range of employee benefit issues – from designing qualified pension or profit-sharing plans, health and welfare plans, or non-qualified deferred compensation plans – to IRS and DOL audits or defending participant litigation. His practice consists of private, governmental, and nonprofit entities, single and multiple employer plans and multiemployer withdrawal liability.
Rich has participated in mediation training through the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and is available to mediate or arbitrate ERISA cases, including multiemployer withdrawal liability and excessive fee cases.
Rich's personal interests include adventure travel, photography, and bicycling. In 1991, he completed a 4,000-mile bicycle journey across Siberia, Russia (Bicycling Magazine, June 1997). Rich is married with a daughter.
IRS and DOL audits and MPPAA arbitration
Successfully guiding clients through IRS and DOL audits, and the Voluntary Compliance relief process, without adverse consequences and structuring transactions to avoid the assessment of withdrawal liability under MPPAA, as well as negotiating lump-sum settlements or withdrawal liability. Requesting "reviews" for withdrawing employers and arbitrating withdrawal liability demands.
ERISA class action lawsuits
Specialized Insurance / Fiduciary Litigation
Multiemployer Withdrawal Litigation
Retiree Medical Plan Litigation
RLA / Grievance Litigation
Top Hat Litigation
IRS / DOL Audit Litigation
Admitted to Practice
LL.M., Taxation, Boston University School of Law
J.D., Seattle University School of Law
- Associate Editor, Law Review
- Distinguished Law Graduate
B.A., Political Science, Washington State University, cum laude
Memberships & Affiliations
- Former Adjunct Professor, Pension & Profit Sharing, Seattle University School of Law
- Former Contributing Editor, Compensation and Benefits Management (a national quarterly)
- Executive Compensation and Employee Benefit Committee; Employee Benefits Committee; Welfare Benefit Committee – American Bar Association
- Seattle Pension Roundtable
- Western Pension Conference
- Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" by Chambers USA in Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Law (California), 2021-2023
- Fellow, The American College of Employee Benefits Counsel
- Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Employee Benefits Law by Best Lawyers in two categories: ERISA law and ERISA litigation
- Selected by Best Lawyers as Seattle's "Lawyer of the Year" in Employee Benefits (ERISA), 2012, 2014
- Selected to "Washington Super Lawyers" in Employee Benefits, Thomson Reuters, 2003-2004, 2007-2023
- Selected to "Who's Who in American Law," "Who's Who in Practicing Attorneys," and "Who's Who in Emerging Leaders"