Ian S. Kopelman

Ian S. Kopelman

Retired Partner

Ian Kopelman, with extensive experience in ERISA, is responsible for all matters involving retirement and other fringe benefit programs for clients ranging in size from major publicly held corporations and public benefit plans to sole proprietorships and partnerships.

Ian's experience includes designing and drafting both qualified and non-qualified retirement and deferred compensation plans, including leveraged employee stock ownership plans, and he regularly counsels clients on plan implementation, administration, operation and communication. He also works extensively in the area of employee welfare benefit plans, including health and healthcare cost containment programs, life insurance, disability and flexible benefit (Section 125) plans. Ian has primary responsibility for benefit plan aspects of corporate acquisitions, mergers and divestitures, terminating plans, and researching and giving opinions on ERISA issues, including those relating to plan qualification, reporting and disclosure, fiduciary responsibilities, and the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980. Ian also drafts master individual retirement account programs and employee pension benefit plans for banks, insurance companies and brokerage houses, and regularly counsels clients in this area.

Bar admissionsIllinois
CourtsUnited States District Court for the Northern District of IllinoisUnited States Tax Court
  • J.D., University of Iowa 1974
    with honors
    Pi Sigma Alpha
    Omicron Delta Kappa
    Phi Delta Phi
  • B.A., Knox College 1971
    cum laude


Among his many recognitions, Ian has been included in the annual editions of The Best Lawyers in America® for employee benefits law since 2007. The Leading Lawyers Network cites him as an Illinois Leading Lawyer and he is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Law and Who's Who in the World. Additionally, Ian has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer as the result of a research project conducted jointly by Law & Politics and Chicago magazines.

  • The Legal 500 United States
    2020 - Recommended, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans: Design
    The Legal 500 comments, "DLA Piper LLP (US)'s Chicago-based benefits experts — including... Ian Kpelman — provide a host of public companies with advice on qualified and non-qualified plan design, reporting and disclosure oblications, and tax-related advice."
    2016-17 - Recommended, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

Insight Overview

A nationally recognized figure in his field, Ian is a frequent speaker and has written extensively in the area of employee benefits.


Throughout his career, Ian has published numerous articles on issues and trends in the area of employee benefits. In addition, he is the author of a bi-monthly column on legal and legislative issues impacting employee benefits published in Defined Contribution Insights Magazine. He is also the author of a chapter on employee benefits law titled, "Fiduciary Responsibilities Under ERISA: What Every Executive Needs to Know," Employee Benefits Law, Leading Lawyers on Strategies for Compliance and Cost Efficient Benefit Programs for Businesses.

Teaching Experience

Ian has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the John Marshall Law School.

Memberships And Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association (Chair, Employee Benefits Committee, 1983)
  • WEB, Inc.
  • Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry's Employee Benefits Committee
  • Business Advisory Board, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois
  • Member, John Marshall College of Law Advisory Committee to LLM (in employee benefits law for lawyers) and MS Programs (in employee benefits law for non-lawyers)
  • Leading Lawyers of Illinois, Advisory Committee (2003)
  • The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (1978-2016)
    • Legal Counsel (2005 – 2016)
    • Legal and Legislative Committee (1991 – 2016)
    • Board of Directors (1997 – 2005)
    • Communications Committee (1989 – 1991)
    • As Legal Counsel, testified before the US Department of Labor ERISA Advisory Committee and testified before a joint SEC and US Department of Labor hearing on target-date funds (June 2009)