Joan M. Neri

Phone: (973) 549-7393 (973) 549-7393
Fax: (973) 360-9831


Joan M. Neri has been representing plan sponsors and plan service providers on matters involving benefits, compensation and all aspects of ERISA compliance since 1988. Joan counsels employers, management and plan fiduciary committees of publicly held corporations, closely held corporations, U.S. affiliates of foreign corporations, and tax-exempt organizations on their fiduciary compliance responsibilities. She advises on the design of qualified retirement plans (including ESOPs), nonqualified executive compensation plans and welfare benefit plans, day-to-day plan administrative issues, and transaction planning involving benefit plan acquisitions, plan mergers and plan terminations.

Joan represents plan service providers (including registered investment advisers, broker-dealers, third party administrators, and recordkeepers) in fulfilling their obligations under ERISA, including fiduciary status and the considerations associated with structuring, developing and offering investment products and services to ERISA plans. She is a frequent speaker throughout the country on legislative and regulatory developments impacting service providers to ERISA plans, ERISA fiduciaries and employee benefit plans and has authored numerous articles on these topics. Joan is a contributor to Drinker Biddle’s Broker-Dealer Law Blog, which provides practical insights on litigation, regulatory, compliance and fiduciary issues impacting broker-dealers.


  • Counseled U.S. subsidiary of a German parent corporation on reorganization of its benefit plan structure, including various plan mergers and terminations as well as development of nonqualified benefit plans for management. She was also loaned to this corporation to serve as its lead benefits counsel during a transition period, and in that capacity, she worked with both union and management on plan governance and ERISA compliance issues.
  • Assisted global investment manager in the launch of its custom target date fund strategies for ERISA plans, advising on ERISA fiduciary, disclosure, QDIA requirements and other technical compliance issues.
  • Advised registered investment advisers on ERISA fiduciary, disclosure and QDIA compliance in connection with development and structure of asset allocation models to be used in ERISA plans, and drafted service agreement and disclosure documents needed to implement the resulting structures.
  • Created fiduciary training programs for registered investment advisers and plan officials.
  • Obtained favorable opinion from New Jersey Division of Tax for trust company that serves as trustee of pension fund in connection with the pension fund’s ownership of a federally tax-exempt corporation owning New Jersey property.
  • Obtained a favorable IRS ruling for hospital in connection with reorganization of its affiliate boards.
  • Obtained favorable opinion letter from the New Jersey Department of Banking for Minnesota Bank as to intrastate activities to be conducted by the bank through non-banking affiliates in New Jersey.
  • Obtained IRS compliance statements for plan fiduciaries under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) in connection with plan operational defects in order to preserve the tax qualified status of such plans.


Chambers USA, New Jersey, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, "Recognised Practitioner" (2019)

Awards Methodology (


Bar Admissions

  • New Jersey


  • New York University School of Law, LL.M., Taxation, 1989
  • Seton Hall University School of Law, J.D., 1986, Seton Hall Law Review
  • Rutgers University (Douglass College), B.A., 1983, with high honors, Phi Beta Kappa


  • National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA)
  • American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)
  • Plan Sponsor Council of America, Legal & Legislative Committee
  • Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)