Brian M. Pinheiro

Tel 215.864.8511
Fax 215.864.8999

Brian M. Pinheiro is the Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group and has served as Chair of the firm's Business and Transactions Department.

He represents for-profit, tax-exempt, church, and government employers on matters relating to executive compensation, including Section 409A and the Section 280G golden parachute rules; tax-qualified retirement plans, including cash balance pension plans; 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans; and health and welfare benefit plans. 

Brian focuses on compliance with the statutory and regulatory rules relating to such plans, including rules arising out of ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, HIPAA, COBRA, and the ADEA. He advises boards of directors and compensation committees on the design and operations of executive compensation arrangements, and he counsels retirement plan investment committees on ERISA fiduciary issues. He has represented employers before the IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and has assisted employers in seeking approval under various government-sponsored voluntary correction programs, including the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) and the DOL Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP). Brian has advised clients extensively on strategies and compliance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He also has advised clients on health plan compliance with the HIPAA privacy and security regulations.

Brian joined the firm in 1997 following two years as a Tax Law Specialist with the Employee Plans Division of the Internal Revenue Service (National Office). At the IRS, Brian reviewed various types of retirement plans for qualification under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. He also worked extensively in the IRS Voluntary Compliance Resolution program to assist employers in correcting operational failures in their tax-qualified plans.

Professional Activities

American Bar Association

District of Columbia Bar Association

Pennsylvania Bar Association

Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, Adjunct Professor, courses on employee benefits policy and tax-qualified retirement plans

Recognition & Accomplishments

The Legal 500 US, Labor and Employment - Employee benefits, executive compensation, and retirement plans - design, 2019-2020

Chambers USA, labor and employment: employee benefits and compensation law, 2006-2020

The Best Lawyers in America, employee benefits (ERISA) law, 2010-2021, "Lawyer of the Year," Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (Philadelphia), 2020

Named to Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2010 "40 Under 40" list, recognizing professional excellence and outstanding community involvement

Recipient, the Brennan Award, on behalf of the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP) in recognition of time and effort working on behalf of equal justice for all people

Recipient, The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly's 2007 "Lawyers on the Fast Track" award, given to select young Pennsylvania lawyers whose achievements have distinguished them among their peers


Co-author, "New Stimulus Deal: Overview of Major Provisions Impacting Businesses and Individuals," Ballard Spahr alert, December 22, 2020

Co-author, "IRS Provides Flexibility for Employer-Sponsored Health Plans and FSAs in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic," Ballard Spahr alert, May 13, 2020

Co-author, "IRS Issues New Guidance on CARES Act Provisions Affecting Retirement Plans," Ballard Spahr alert, May 6, 2020

Co-author, "Employee Benefits and Furloughs in the Era of COVID-19," Ballard Spahr alert, March 17, 2020

Co-author, "DOL Move Expands Definition of 'Employer' For Multiple Employer Plans," Ballard Spahr alert, August 2, 2019

Co-author, "Treasury Proposes New Regulations for Retirement Plan 'Hardship Distributions'," Ballard Spahr alert, November 14, 2018

Co-author, "Breach of Fiduciary Duty Case Against University Retirement Plan Fiduciaries Survives Motion to Dismiss," Ballard Spahr alert, May 12, 2017

Co-author, "House Passes American Health Care Act," Ballard Spahr alert, May 5, 2017 

Co-author, "HHS Finalizes Health Insurance Market Stabilization Rules," Ballard Spahr alert, April 19, 2017 

Co-author, "ACA Repeal and Replace Plan is Released," Ballard Spahr alert, March 7, 2017 

Co-author, "Expect Pro-Business, Pro-Employer Changes Under Trump Administration," Ballard Spahr alert, January 20, 2017

Co-author, "Flexibility Offered for Deferred Compensation Plans of Tax-Exempt Organizations, Government Agencies," Ballard Spahr alert, June 22, 2016

Co-author, "PA’s Medical Marijuana Act: Challenges for Employers," Ballard Spahr alert, April 29, 2016

Co-author, Employee Stock Ownership Plan Answer Book, Fourth Edition, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Co-author, Employer’s Guide to Health Care Reform, 2010-2016 editions, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Co-editor, ERISA—A Comprehensive Guide, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, and co-author, two of the Guide's chapters, "Qualified Retirement Plans" and "ERISA's Fiduciary Responsibility Provisions"

Co-author, "OFCCP Publishes Final Rule on Pay Transparency for Federal Contractors, Subcontractors," Ballard Spahr alert, September 15, 2015

"A View of King v. Burwell from Inside the Courtroom," Employee Benefit Adviser, March 9, 2015

Speaking Engagements

Frequent lecturer on employee benefits issues and at firm-sponsored seminars for clients as well as seminars sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Lorman Educational Services, and the Public Employer Labor Relations Advisory Service

Presenter, "GPBCH Employer’s Forum - Q&A with the Experts: A COVID-19 Update," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 16, 2020

Presenter, "Paid Leave and Other Legal Considerations for the COVID-19 Pandemic," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 2, 2020

Presenter, "Furloughs, Layoffs, and Related Employment and Benefits Issues," Ballard Spahr webinar, March 26, 2020

"Structuring and Implementing Executive Compensation Strategies in Private Equity Portfolio Companies," Ballard Spahr event, Minneapolis, February 28, 2019

"Labor, Employment and Benefits Year in Review 2018," Ballard Spahr CLE, February 27, 2019

"The Impact of an Aging Workforce and How Employers Can Prepare," Ballard Spahr CLE, January 10, 2019

"Employee Benefits Outlook 2018: What's Hot and What's Not," 2017 Ballard Spahr SEPA SHRM HR Legal Summit, September 14, 2017 

"General Counsel Issues in Higher Education," a Ballard Spahr webinar, January 17, 2017

Guest Speaker, "In the Workplace" segment, Sirius XM Business Radio, November 3, 2016

"Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) 101," A Ballard Spahr, Archer & Greiner, Capital Trustees, and Katz, Sapper & Miller webinar, March 23, 2016

"Hot Topics in Employee Benefits," 2015 HR Legal Summit: Labor and Employment Law Compliance for Today's HR Professional, Ballard Spahr and SEPA SHRM conference, Langhorne, Pa., September 11, 2015

"Fiduciary Gridiron? How to Succeed on the Field: Selecting Your Team," BDO Webinar, May 21, 2015

Board Memberships

Board of Trustees, Settlement Music School, the largest community school of the arts in the United States

PENJERDEL Employee Benefits and Compensation Association (PEBA)

The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (J.D. 1995, magna cum laude)
Production Editor, Catholic University Law Review

Georgetown University Law Center (LL.M. 1997, with distinction; Certificate in Employee Benefits)

Boston College (B.A. 1992)


District of Columbia