News Releases
September 5, 2013

Polsinelli welcomes attorneys Riva T. Johnson, Patti J. Hedgpeth and Meredith VanderWilt to the firm’s national Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice. The trio joins a deep bench of employee benefits attorneys who cover all aspects of plan creation and design, executive compensation agreements and compliance responsibility. Charlotte K. Ackley, a senior benefits advisor, also joins Polsinelli and brings 25 years of employee benefits experience having previously worked with Johnson and Hedgpeth for many of those years as well. With this addition, Polsinelli’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice is now one of the largest in Dallas and growing nationally.

“It is rare that a firm gets the opportunity to add such accomplished and well-respected attorneys in one move within the Employee Benefits community, and we’re very excited about the experience and capabilities this group brings to our firm and to the Dallas marketplace,” said Employee Benefits Practice Chair Brian M. Johnston. “They are business-minded, have a deep understanding of the clients’ business and are uniquely similar in their approach to client service. We are thrilled to have them onboard.”

About Riva T. Johnson

Johnson joins Polsinelli as a senior partner with more than 30 years of experience in the ERISA and benefits area. She assists employers with the establishment, administration and ongoing compliance issues of their welfare plans, executive compensation, pension, 401 (k), profit sharing, ESOPs and other qualified and nonqualified benefit and compensation plans.

“I’m honored and excited about helping to continue the growth of the Dallas office and the employee benefits law practice nationally,” Johnson said. “I was particularly drawn to Polsinelli’s culture and business philosophy. Consistently exceeding clients’ expectations, delivering quality counsel and providing outstanding client service is a hallmark of the firm.”

Johnson regularly represents companies before the IRS and the Department of Labor and advises management and fiduciaries on problems arising in operation of retirement, welfare and executive compensation plans. She also has extensive experience with the design, preparation and modification of medical, dental and disability plans.

Johnson earned her law degree, cum laude, from the University of Texas School of Law in 1979, and her B.A. degree, cum laude, at the University of Tulsa in 1976. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Dallas Bar Association, the American Bar Association and a Charter Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.

Johnson also has been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America (2005-2013) and Texas Super Lawyers (2006-2013).

About Patti J. Hedgpeth

Hedgpeth joins Polsinelli as a shareholder. She focuses her practice on all aspects of the firm’s Employee Benefits Practice, including the design, implementation and operation of tax-qualified retirement plans, employee stock ownership plans, nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements and health and welfare benefit plans.

“Polsinelli has developed an innovative platform, allowing attorneys in a broad range of legal practice areas to collaborate and provide superior service to clients,” Hedgpeth said. “I’m pleased our clients will benefit from that platform.”

Hedgpeth earned her law degree, summa cum laude, from Texas Tech University in 1998, and her B.S. degree, summa cum laude, from San Diego State University in 1983. Prior to attending law school, she worked with two of the “Big Five” accounting firms and was also the controller of a multidivisional corporation. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation Section of the Dallas Bar Association and is also a member of the State Bar of Texas, and the American Bar Association.

About Meredith VanderWilt

VanderWilt joins Polsinelli as an associate. She focuses her practice on a variety of employee benefits matters, including the design and implementation of qualified plans, health and welfare plans and non-qualified compensation arrangements, as well as compliance with the IRS code, ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA and PPACA.

“Polsinelli has a rich, national reputation in employee benefits law and offers a platform that allows me to further develop my practice while working alongside some of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the business,” she said. “I’m very excited to be a part of that team.”

VanderWilt received her law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in 2011, and her B.A. degree in 2006 from the University of Texas. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the American Bar Association, the Dallas Bar Association and the Southwest Benefits Association.

About Charlotte K. Ackley

Ackley joins Polsinelli as a senior benefits advisor. With 25 years of experience, she specializes in the drafting and designing of a wide variety of welfare benefit plans, including medical, dental, vision, life, AD&D, disability, EAPs, cafeteria, medical reimbursement and dependent care assistance plans. She also is involved in other aspects of the firm’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice, including tax-qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, employee stock ownership plans and the negotiation of third-party administration contracts and fiduciary issues.

Dallas is one of the firm’s key cities which include Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Kansas City, New York, Phoenix, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. The American Lawyer Magazine featured Polsinelli in its June 2013 issue and recognized it as the fastest-growing law firm in America over the past five years. This year, the firm moved up to the 69th position from 78th in The National Law Journal’s ranking of the largest U.S. based law firms. Jon Henderson was recently named managing partner of the firm’s Dallas office.

For more information contact Public Relations Manager Heather McMichael, 816-223-8780, hmcmichael@polsinelli.com

About Polsinelli

Real Challenges. Real Answers.SM Serving corporations, institutions, entrepreneurs, and individuals, our attorneys build enduring relationships by providing legal counsel informed by business insight to help clients achieve their objectives. This commitment to understanding our clients' businesses has helped us become the fastest growing law firm in the U.S. for the past five years, according to the leading legal business and law firm publication, The American Lawyer. Our more than 670 attorneys in 17 cities work with clients nationally to address the challenges of their roles in health care, financial services, real estate, life sciences and technology, energy and business litigation. The firm can be found online at www.polsinelli.com. Polsinelli PC. In California, Polsinelli LLP.