Photo of Samantha A. Kopacz

Samantha A. Kopacz





J.D., Wayne State University Law School, 2007

B.A., New York University, 2004

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals

  • Sixth Circuit

U.S. District Court

  • Eastern District of Michigan
  • Western District of Michigan

Samantha Kopacz's practice centers around the design, implementation and administration of employee benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements. Sam has more than 15 years of experience representing employers, trustee boards, group health plans, insurance companies, and third-party administrators in regulatory and compliance issues related to qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, fringe benefit plans, and executive compensation and incentive programs.

Sam has extensive experience structuring and advising on defined contribution plans (such as IRC §401(k), profit sharing, §403(b), and §457 plans), defined benefit/pension plans, self-funded and fully-insured health and welfare benefit plans, IRC §125 cafeteria plans, IRC §501(c)(9) VEBAs, IRC §115 trusts, consumer-driven plans (including flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and health savings accounts) and various other types of benefit plans. Her expertise includes drafting plan documentation and communications, negotiating benefits-related contracts, conducting legal compliance audits, coordinating government filings with the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and spearheading correction of operational and documentation mistakes.

She also advises clients on various laws and regulations that intersect with employee benefits, such as ERISA, IRC, HIPAA, PPACA, FMLA, and COBRA. She is a frequent author and public speaker on topics related to various aspects of employee benefits such as wellness programs and health care reform.

Sam oversees the administration of employee benefits for private, publicly traded, and governmental entities of all sizes. Recognizing that each client's objectives and needs are unique, she helps each client develop, implement and maintain a legally compliant and competitive benefit structure that fits the particular client's business model.

With respect to executive and incentive compensation programs, Sam advises both privately-owned and publicly traded companies on structure, implementation, and operation of compensatory programs such as phantom equity, restricted stock, and stock option programs. She also counsels clients on complex taxation issues associated with IRC §409A and §280G.

Sam also has extensive experience with benefit issues associated with corporate transactions, including plan terminations, change of control parachute excise taxes, and related transition issues. She also represents health plans, medical providers, and business associates on HIPAA compliance issues, as well as businesses and individuals in entity formation, governance, reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate matters.

Samantha is a lifelong Michigan resident and graduate of Wayne State University Law School. She previously interned for the Honorable Judge Nancy G. Edmunds of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Representative Matters

  • Negotiated, implemented, and obtained IRS approval of a settlement agreement on behalf of a municipality requiring the municipality to terminate its overfunded defined benefit plan with assets valued around $550 million, reestablish a new defined benefit plan (assuming all of the pension liabilities of the terminated defined benefit plan plus a substantial cushion of assets), and establish a VEBA (which received the remaining excess assets to fund certain retiree health benefits).
  • Represented publicly traded Fortune 500 company in benefit plan aspects of corporate spinoff.
  • Represented participating employer in the correction of underreported earnings associated with over 500 participants to a multiple employer defined benefit plan.
  • Successfully helped clients navigate through numerous government and self-audits to ensure proper legal compliance with applicable federal and state laws.
  • Facilitated employee benefit plan corrections to help clients mitigate legal exposure, such as through government agency voluntary correction programs.
  • Managed benefits enrollment and disenrollment processes on behalf of clients.
  • Conducted numerous HIPAA training sessions.
  • Negotiated various employee benefit issues on behalf of clients, including in the context of mergers and acquisitions, collective bargaining agreements, and various third-party vendor contracts.


Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2022-present

DBusiness Magazine, Top Lawyer, Employee Benefits Law & Litigation, 2020-present

Professional Activities

Co-Vice Chair, Administrative Practices Subcommittee, Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association, 2022-present

Chair, Employee Benefits Committee, Taxation Section of the State Bar of Michigan, 2021-present

Civic, Cultural & Social Activities

Charlotte's Wings, Board of Directors 2017-present, Annual Benefit Planning Committee 2014-present, Keynote Speaker for 2018 Annual Benefit

Franklin Community Preschool, Board of Directors 2017-2022

Lansing 150 History Committee, 2009

Lymphoma Research Foundation, 2002-2003

New York University Women's Varsity Soccer Team, 2000-2002


Panelist, "Tax and Employee Benefits Talk: Frequent Tax Issues Facing HR & Updates on SECURE 2.0," Miller Canfield 2024 HR Spring Training

Moderator, "Roundtable Discussion on Employee Benefits Hot Topics," SBM Employee Benefits Committee, Feb. 8, 2024

Co-Presenter (with Katina Gorman), "Impact of Internal Revenue Code on Employee Benefits," State Bar of Michigan Tax Section "Fundamentals of Taxation" program, January 31, 2024

Panelist, "Secure 2.0 Grab Bag," ABA Midyear Tax Meeting, San Francisco, CA, January 20, 2024

Panelist, "Employee Benefits Self Correction, Determination Letters and Administrative Practices Update," ABA Midyear Tax Meeting, San Francisco, CA, January 19, 2024

Panelist, "Hot Topics Roundtable Discussion (Employee Benefits Committee)", State Bar of Michigan Tax Conference, May 25, 2023

Co-Presenter (with Samuel Parks), "Employee Benefit Issues for Start-Up Companies," State Bar of Michigan Tax Conference, May 25, 2023

Panelist, "Employee Benefits Self Correction, Determination Letters and Administrative Practices," American Bar Association Tax Section 2023 May Tax Meeting, May 5, 2023

Panelist, "Breaking Down the SECURE 2.0 Act," Miller Canfield 2023 HR Spring Training

Co-Presenter (with Brian Gallagher), "Overview of Key SECURE 2.0 Act Provisions," SBM Employee Benefits Committee, April 6, 2023

Moderator, "Roundtable Discussion on Employee Benefits Hot Topics," SBM Employee Benefits Committee, Feb. 2, 2023

Panelist, "Employee Benefits Administrative Practices," American Bar Association Tax Section 2022 Fall Meeting, October 14, 2022

Co-Presenter (with Nhan Ho), "Employer Group Reimbursement Requirements," Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology Spring Reimbursement Meeting, April 29, 2022

Co-Presenter (with Ashley Higginson), "HIPAA, FERPA & Privacy in the COVID Era," Michigan School Business Officials 2021 Annual Conference

Presenter, "An Update on Wellness Program Guidance," Employee Benefits Committee of the State Bar of Michigan's Taxation Section Meeting, December 2015

Presenter, "Health Care Reform: An Overview of Taxation, Group Health Plan and Administrative Issues," Greater Lansing Estate Planning Council Meeting, October 2010

Presenter, "Health Care Reform and its Impact on Group Health Plans—The First Years," Michigan Society of Association Executives 2010 Annual Meeting, July 2010


"An Overview of the Secure 2.0 Act" (co-authored with Brian Gallagher, Katina Gorman and Samuel Parks), Michigan Tax Lawyer, Summer 2023

"Employee Benefits After Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization," ABA Labor and Employment Law Newsletter, November 22, 2022

"6th Circ. ERISA Ruling Shows Scope Of Fiduciary Liability," (Subscriber Link) Law 360, May 31, 2022

"COVID-19 and Employee Benefit Plans" (co-authored with Samuel L. Parks), Michigan Bar Journal, November 2020

Chapter Author, Cafeteria Plan Design: I.R.C. § 125 Requirements, Bloomberg BNA Benefits Guide: Basics (2020)

Author, Soaring Compliance Burdens for Wellness Programs Continue to Emerge: New Guidance Released, Michigan Tax Lawyer (Winter 2017)

Co-Author, Pay or Play Mandate: The Forgotten Employees, Michigan Tax Lawyer (Fall 2013)

Co-Author, Impact of Health Care Reform on Group Health Plans - The First Years, Newsletter of the Michigan Health Care Human Resources Association (Winter 2011)

Co-Author, Health Reform Also Amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, Greater Lansing Business Monthly (August 2010)

Author, Impact of Health Care Reform Law on Group Health Plans, Greater Lansing Business Monthly (June 2010)

Co-Author, The Latest About the COBRA Subsidy Extension,—A Guide to Human Resources (February 2010)