American Bar Association American Bar Association

Ethics Issues for Benefits Lawyers Responding to Audit Letters

SPONSORS: The Sections of Business Law, Health Law, Labor and Employment Law, Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, Taxation, and Tort Trial and Insurance Practice; and the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel

General Information

A 90-minute TeleConference/Live Audio Webcast

1:00-2:30 pm ET / 12:00-1:30 pm CT / 11:00 am-12:30 pm MT / 10:00 am-11:30 am PT 

John Utz
, Utz Miller Kuhn & Eickman, LLC, Overland Park, KS

Stanley Keller, Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, Boston, MA;
Bruce Pingree, Baker Botts LLP, Dallas, TX

Benefits lawyers annually receive letters from their clients asking the law firm to provide information to the client’s outside auditor or to the plan’s auditor. These requests cover fiduciary violations, plan qualification defects, claims against the employer or the plan, and pending litigation - all areas that may create ethical dilemmas and professional issues for the benefits lawyer in crafting a response. The speakers will discuss practical answers about how to respond to these audit letters, including:

·         What are the applicable standards for responding to audit letters, including employee benefit plan audit letter inquiries?

·         Who is the client you are to respond for?

·         How does the lawyer respond to inappropriate requests?

·         Are there upcoming changes to these positions?

·         How can the lawyer answer without destroying attorney-client privilege?

·         Does the lawyer have a duty to give updates to the auditor?

·         How do the questions and answers differ for the client’s auditor and the plan’s auditor?

·         Are the standards the same for publicly-traded and private companies?


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Ethics Issues for Benefits Lawyers Responding to Audit Letters
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