Cristin M. Obsitnik concentrates her practice in employee benefits law and executive compensation matters, with a particular focus on employee stock ownership plans.
Cristin counsels employers on the design and implementation of tax-qualified pension plans and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements, as well as ERISA fiduciary matters. She regularly advises on plan administrative and regulatory compliance problems, including errors in benefit administration and documentation under the IRS and DOL correction programs, with a focus on achieving a practical resolution of such matters.
In addition to advising clients on day-to-day administrative matters, Cristin has extensive experience providing advice on company mergers and acquisitions, including how to handle any employee benefits matters that may arise, including controlled group, withdrawal liability and COBRA issues. Cristin also represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Cristin has extensive experience in all aspects of nonqualified deferred compensation plans (including Code Section 409A compliance), executive employment and separation agreements, golden parachutes and Code Section 280G, and performance pay under Code Section 162(m). She advises on all types of equity compensation arrangements, including stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted shares, restricted share units and phantom stock plans.
In the ESOP area, Cristin represents plan sponsors and independent trustees in the design, implementation, operation and termination of ESOPs.
- Advised on the implementation of a lump sum window for a defined benefit plan and a choice election program for union employees giving them the right to elect to continue participation in the defined benefit plan or receive enhanced benefits under the 401(k) plan.
- Analyzed nondiscrimination testing and plan design issues relating to controlled group and affiliated service group status of affiliated entities.
- Advised on the redesign of a supplemental executive retirement plan and defined contribution restoration plan, and moving from a pension based approach to a service-graded formula.
- Conducted training for investment and administrative committees on their fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA.
- Advised on ERISA 4062(e) issues related to a facility shutdown or sale.
- Advised on the use of a secular trust to fund severance benefits following a sale of assets.
- Represented an independent trustee in connection with the implementation of an ESOP by a meat distributor and the purchase of approximately 25 percent of the company’s outstanding common stock.
Awards Methodology (www.drinkerbiddle.com/content/awards)
- Northwestern University School of Law, LL.M., 2005, with honors
- Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D., 1997, cum laude, Loyola Law Journal
- Amherst College, B.A., 1993