Carolyn M. Trenda Partner

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Carolyn regularly advises public, private and non-profit employers on a range of employee benefits topics.

She designs and assists clients with the ongoing administration of tax-qualified retirement plans including defined benefit pension plans, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, 457 deferred compensation plans, profit sharing plans and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). She routinely helps clients with health and welfare plan matters including plan design and COBRA and HIPAA related questions. She also works with employers to establish and maintain non-qualified, stock option and fringe benefit plans.

Specifically, Carolyn has assisted clients with restructuring retiree medical programs, merging and terminating employee benefit plans, evaluating executive compensation arrangements and negotiating vendor agreements and trust agreements. She often advises employers on employee benefits matters during mergers and acquisitions, including issues related to the compensation and benefits of transferred and terminated employees. She routinely obtains rulings and determinations from the IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor and other government agencies and guides clients through agency audits and the use of government sponsored compliance and correction programs.

Carolyn also counsels employers and employee benefit plan committees on ERISA fiduciary obligations. She frequently publishes articles and speaks on a variety of employee benefits subjects.

In 2001, Carolyn completed the University of Notre Dame Law School’s Concannon Program of International Law. While earning her undergraduate degree, Carolyn was a member of the Phi Alpha Theta honor society.


  • Advice to a manufacturing client regarding the redesign and implementation of a retiree medical program. The changes included cost-sharing for current retirees and access-only for future retirees. Provide assessments on litigation risks for various groups affected by the changes. Health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts were included with a program of employee/retiree communication and education.
  • Conduct a compliance review of health and welfare documentation, update summary plan descriptions and coordinate with newly designed wrap plan documents. Separate programs developed for active and retiree groups.
  • Design and implementation of a new defined contribution retirement plan for an energy company and merged several existing plans into the newly created plan. Facilitated client interaction with the third party administrator and negotiated recordkeeping and trust agreements.
  • Ongoing representation of global manufacturer’s qualified retirement plans and welfare plans. As this client is continuously acquiring and selling various subsidiaries and plants, we advise them through the employee benefits issues that arise in these transactions, including negotiating the terms of the sale/purchase agreements and administrative/legal considerations regarding plan mergers or terminations.
  • Creation of equity option plans for growing technology companies.