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Steven Witmer, Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Chartered Photo

Steven H. Witmer



Steve serves as primary outside employee benefits counsel for numerous clients, handling all legal aspects of design, compliance, administrative, fiduciary, and other plan functions. In addition, Steve is a practice leader in assisting clients with their HR contracting and outsourcing efforts, and also with the firm’s employee benefits merger and acquisition efforts. Clients describe Steve as quick and creative, with the ability to translate complicated legal analysis into practical business solutions and opportunities. Steve is individually recognized by Chambers & Partners, Best Lawyers, and others for Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation.

Though Steve works out of the firm’s Washington DC office with regularity, he currently resides in Colorado as part of his slow migration back to DC after taking a three-month business trip to Los Angeles (in 1998).


Harvard University Law School, 1990, J.D., cum laude  

Lebanon Valley College, 1987, B.A., summa cum laude

Bar & Court Admissions

District of Columbia



Massachusetts (inactive)

Pennsylvania (inactive) 

Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Bar Association, Tax Section, Employee Benefits Committee

Honors & Awards

  • Chambers USA Guide
  • Best Lawyers


Representative Matters

  • Lead or sole negotiator on more than 3,000 recordkeeping, consulting, trustee, payroll, insurance and other benefits and HR vendor agreement negotiations.
  • Advised clients with respect to employee benefit matters in scores of acquisitions, dispositions, spin-offs, IPOs and other corporate transactions.  He has assisted with everything from populating the data room, to due diligence, to negotiating the purchase/sale agreement, to supporting all aspects of the benefits transition.
  • Steve was recognized in Corporate Counsel magazine for his role in a particularly unusual and creative corporate disposition.
  • Lead on numerous IRS, DOL and PGBC matters.
    • Convinced an IRS review team to issue one of the first favorable determination letters on a complicated cash balance pension plan design.
    • Obtained PBGC waiver of a $200 million+ plus funding obligation.
    • Worked with a foreign government’s Secretary of Labor, the DOL, IRS and Department of State, to create a U.S.-based Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) as part of a successful negotiation to withdraw all penalty assertions. 

News & Events

Speeches & Presentations

  • Steve regularly speaks and writes about employee benefits issues.
  • He has spoken multiple times in front in front of the American Bar Association, In-House Benefits Counsel Network, Western Pension & Benefits Council, Tax Executives Institute, and other organizations.
  • Recurring topics include (a) contracting issues in the increasingly outsourced employee benefits realm, and (b) benefits issues in corporate mergers, acquisitions and other transactions.
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