Rick Pearl



A trusted authority on ERISA matters, Richard Pearl is passionate about representing trustees, plan sponsors, boards of directors, shareholders and service providers in high-stakes and complex ERISA matters. Rick has earned national recognition for his thought leadership, particularly in employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) litigation matters. He has an extensive knowledge of ERISA legislative history and complex issues such as:

  • ERISA standards for ESOP purchases and sales of stock
  • Valuation standards for an assessment of fair market value
  • ERISA 406 and 408 prohibited transactions provisions and exemptions
  • ERISA 502(a) causes of action and burdens of proof
  • The scope of ERISA’s fiduciary and co-fiduciary obligations under ERISA 404 and 405
  • ERISA 502(a)(3) equitable claims and equitable remedies
  • ERISA 410(a) and the difference between exculpation and permissible indemnification

Rick has written several papers on ERISA issues and has a published piece in the academic Journal of Employee Ownership on permissible indemnification under ERISA. He also has written extensively about fiduciary liability insurance and advises clients on insurance procurement and renewal issues.

Thought Leadership

A prolific researcher, writer and speaker, Rick focuses on ERISA/ESOP litigation trends. He is a regular fixture at national conferences and his insights have been featured in outlets such as the National Center for Employee Ownership, the American Bar Association, Business Valuation Resources, The ESOP Association, the Journal of Employee Ownership, Law360 and The National Law Review.

Rick also is a member of the Valuation Advisory Committee of The ESOP Association and a member of The ESOP Association’s Public Policy Council.

Personal Interests

In addition to his legal practice, Rick has written, produced and designed sounds for Lady Gaga and Pitbull, and wrote and produced the CLIO-award-winning music for a Superbowl commercial.

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • Valuation in ESOP Transactions: What Are the ERISA and IRC Requirements?
    Co-presenter with Kim Blaugher, The Beyster Institute at UC San Diego's Rady School of Management, June 8, 2021 
  • ERISA Litigation and Employee Stock Ownership Plans
    Co-panelist, American Bar Association, Webinar, January 14, 2021
  • DOL’s PRO Good Guidance Rule: Rule Clarifies Which Materials are Binding, Which Are Not
    Author, ESOP Report, September 2020
  • Lessons From Recent Litigation: Amicus Brief Filed in Lee v. Argent Trust Co. Provides Court With New Information
    Co-panelist, Webinar, July 28, 2020
  • Indemnification of ESOP Fiduciaries
    Author, Journal of Employee Ownership, Summer 2020
  • Class Action Litigation Involving ERISA/ESOP Valuation Issues
    Co-panelist, Business Valuation Resources Webinar, July 9, 2020
  • The Fair Market Value Standard: Are the DOL and Some Courts Getting It Wrong?
    Speaker, NCEO 2020 Employee Ownership Virtual Conference, April 20-22, 2020
  • A Buyer’s Guide to Insurance for Fiduciaries of ESOPs and Other Benefit Plans
    Author, National Center for Employee Ownership, 2011

Leadership & Community

Professional Associations

  • The ESOP Association — Public Policy Council (Member, 2021-22), Valuation Advisory Committee (Member, 2021)


  • The Legal 500 — 2019
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