Cristin M. Obsitnik



When clients need to design, implement or defend employee benefits or executive compensation plans, they turn to Cristin Obsitnik to provide practical resolutions and protect their interests. She is a master at creating bespoke benefits plans and regularly advises on plan administrative and regulatory compliance issues, including errors in benefit administration and documentation under the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Employee Benefits and Compensation

Cristin counsels employers on the design and implementation of tax-qualified pension plans and nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, as well as on ERISA fiduciary matters. She represents plan sponsors and independent trustees in the design, implementation, operation and termination of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). Cristin advises on the effects that mergers and acquisitions have on employee benefits plans, such as controlled group, withdrawal liability and COBRA issues.

Cristin also advises on all types of equity compensation arrangements:

  • Stock options
  • Stock appreciation rights
  • Restricted shares and restricted share units
  • Phantom stock plans
  • Executive employment and separation agreements

Regulatory Compliance

Cristin has extensive experience counseling clients on compliance with the IRS Code:

  • Nonqualified deferred compensation under section 409A
  • Golden parachutes under section 280G
  • Performance pay under section 162(m)

Representative Experience

  • 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.

Personal Interests

Cristin travels the country with her daughter, a nationally ranked youth tennis player, and enjoys spending time with her son, a travel baseball player.


Bar Admissions



Loyola University Chicago School of Law
J.D. cum laude, Loyola Law Journal (1997)

Amherst College
B.A. (1993)

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
LL.M. with honors (2005)

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • Retirement Plans Cybersecurity
    Co-presenter with Rick Pearl, Finspire LLC, October 19, 2021


  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law — American Jurisprudence Award

Awards Methodology

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