Christy Richardson focuses her practice on employee benefits and executive compensation, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, retirement plans, and health and welfare benefit programs.

Christy advises clients on all aspects of employee benefits, including drafting, designing and implementing, as well as handling operational, compliance and strategic planning considerations related to tax-qualified plans, such as 401(k) plans; non-qualified deferred compensation programs; health and welfare benefit plans encompassing wellness programs, reimbursement accounts (FSAs, HSAs and HRAs), severance programs, cafeteria plans; fringe benefit plans; bonus programs; and advice related to the Internal Revenue Code, ERISA, Affordable Care Act, WARN Act, HIPAA and COBRA compliance issues. Christy has extensive experience advising plan fiduciaries on their obligations, including establishing governance procedures, mitigating risks and participating in fiduciary committee meetings. Christy also frequently negotiates contractual arrangements to effectuate benefits arrangements with outside vendors.

Representative Experience

  • Counsels plan sponsors and plan fiduciaries on establishing, implementing and administering the vast array of benefits programs.
  • Assists clients with audits by both the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service, and supervises submissions to the IRS regarding its review of retirement plans’ tax-qualified status.
  • Advises benefits committees and other plan fiduciaries regarding ERISA fiduciary considerations, as well as securities law issues emerging from implementation and administration of employer stock funds in tax-qualified plans.

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  • Negotiates benefits representations, warranties and covenants in both asset and stock transactions, as well as employee matter and transition agreements, earn out agreements and handling related transition issues.
  • Negotiates service arrangements with vendors, including registered investment advisors, consultants and third-party administrators. Such contracts run the gamut from ERISA Section 3(38) agreements, to Investment Management Agreements, to establishing special benefits programs, such as surrogacy and fertility benefits.

Professional Highlights

  • Benefits Editorial Advisory Board member, Law360 (2022)
  • One of four attorneys honored with an Award of Merit by the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) for her dedication to the organization (2020)
  • American Bar Association, Tax Section (past chair of the Employee Benefits—Mergers & Acquisitions subcommittee)

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  • Associations
    • Bar Association of San Francisco (current board member and on its audit committee); co-chair in 2013 and 2016 of BASF’s “Food from the Bar” campaign in conjunction with the Food Bank of San Francisco and Marin
    • California State Bar Association
    • Western Pension Benefits Conference
    • National Association of Stock Plan Professionals
    • Northern California Human Resources Association
  • Honors & Awards
    • The Legal 500 U.S., Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (2014, 2017 – 2019) and Employee Health and Retirement Plans (2018)
    • Middle-Market M&A Award, Consumer and Retail Products—Finalist, M&A Advisor (2008)
    • Deal of the Year, Total Terminals Infrastructure Joint Venture—Recognized, Asian-Counsel (2007)
    • Super Lawyers (2012 – 2016, 2018 – 2019)
  • Speaking Engagements
    • “SECURE 2.0: 401(k) Plan Design Decisions, Corrections and Necessary Changes,” Pillsbury, February 22, 2023.
    • “Top 10 Compliance Issues for DC Plans… Cycle 3 and a Look Ahead,” Western Pension & Benefits Council, August 17, 2022.
    • ERIC and Pillsbury Benefits Roundtable, September 2018.
    • “Employee Benefits: What’s New and What’s Next?,” Pillsbury MCLE Marathon, January 2018.
    • “Telemedicine Benefits: Are You in Compliance?,” ERIC, November 2017.
    • “Employment Law Outlook,” Pillsbury, February 2015.
    • “Top Employee Benefits Issues that Pose Traps for the Unwary,” Pillsbury MCLE Marathon, January 2014.
    • “ERIC FocusOn Conference Call: An Exploration of the Final Mental Health Parity Regulations,” ERIC; December 2013.
    • “Updating Wellness Programs and Navigating New Open Enrollment Issues,” Pillsbury, September 2013.
    • “FocusOn Call on the Final Wellness Regulations,” ERIC, June 2013.
    • Shared Responsibility/Health Care Reform: “Pay or Play” Workshop Pillsbury, April 2013.
    • “The New Wellness Regime under the Affordable Care Act and Beyond: If It Doesn’t Kill Us, Will It Make Us Stronger?,” ERIC’s Spring 2013 Meeting, April 2013.
    • “FocusOn Call on the Proposed Wellness Regulations,” ERIC, December 2012.
    • “Top 10 Fiduciary Considerations for Your Benefits Program,” Pillsbury MCLE Marathon, January 2012.
    • “The Top Ten Problems to Avoid (or Fix) with Your 401(k) Plan,” Annual Silicon Valley Western Pension Benefits Conference, March 2011.
    • “The Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Health Care Reform,” Pillsbury MCLE Marathon, January 2011 and February 2011.
    • “Is This What’s Next after Health Care Reform?,” panel discussion on Retirement Security, ABA Annual Meeting, August 2010.
    • “Health Care Reform: The Top 10 Issues Employers Need to Focus on Now ... and an Update from Washington,” Pillsbury, June 2010.
    • “The Top Ten Problems to Avoid (or Fix) With Your 401(k) Plan,” Pillsbury, January 2010.
    • “Domestic Partnership and Same-Sex Marriage Issues Arising under Employee Benefit Plans,” Pillsbury, July 2009.
    • “Employee Benefit Issues Arising in the Context of Mergers and Acquisitions,” panel discussion, ABA Tax Section Meeting, May 2008 and May 2009.
    • “Understanding ERISA 2008—Plans that Invest in Employer Securities,” Practicing Law Institute, July 2008.
    • “Developments in Qualified Plans, with an Emphasis on ROTH 401(k) Plan Feature,” ABA Tax Section Meeting; panel discussion on, May 2007.
    • “401(k) Plans Regulatory Update,” Western Pension Benefits 24th Annual Conference—San Francisco Chapter, April 2007.


  • J.D., Cornell Law School, 1990

    B.A., Mathematics and Government, Claremont McKenna College
    cum laude


  • California