James Baker ’75, J.D. ’80, veteran ERISA litigator, has joined Baker & McKenzie as a partner in the San Francisco/Palo Alto office, adding 30 years of experience in the entire spectrum of employee benefit and executive compensation matters.
Described by Chambers USA as “an ERISA legend on the West Coast,” Mr. Baker’s practice focuses on ERISA litigation and the counseling of employers on ERISA, employee benefit and executive compensation issues. Among Mr. Baker’s most notable cases, he was the lead attorney in five ERISA stock drop class action cases resulting in consecutive client victories using five different legal theories: In re First American Corp. ERISA Litigation, (C.D. Cal. 2009); In re Dell ERISA Litigation, (W.D. Tex. 2008); Spivey v. The Southern Company, (N.D. Ga. 2006); In re Administrative Committee ERISA Litigation, (N.D. Cal. 2005); and Ogden v. Americredit Corp., (N.D. Tex. 2005). He also regularly represents clients in federal district and appellate courts across the country.
“We are very pleased that Jim has joined Baker & McKenzie,” said Rick Hammett, Chair of the firm’s North American Compensation and Employment Law Practice Group. “Jim is widely regarded as one of the top ERISA litigators in the U.S., and he joins a strong ERISA litigation practice at our firm. I know our clients will value his significant experience and insight, particularly in ‘stock drop’ cases, which continue to be an issue for many companies.”
“Jim is a great addition to our San Francisco/Palo Alto Office,” said Shane Byrne, Managing Partner of the firm’s San Francisco and Palo Alto offices. “His impressive experience and credentials enhance our strong employment law practice, and increase the range of services we can offer clients in California and beyond.”
“I’m excited to join Baker & McKenzie,” said Mr. Baker. “Baker & McKenzie has one of the preeminent global employment practices, and its impressive depth and international reach are terrific complements to my practice.”
Mr. Baker has been repeatedly cited as one of the top employment law and ERISA litigation lawyers in the U.S. Best Lawyers in America named Mr. Baker as the 2012 “ERISA Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for San Francisco, and the National Law Journal has honored him as one of the nation’s 40 best ERISA attorneys. Recognized in Chambers USA every year since 2007, the leading directory noted in 2011 that he has been “handling very prominent cases and producing work of the highest quality.” In addition, he’s been listed in other legal directories as a leading attorney nationally for ERISA litigation, including the Legal 500 US (2008–2011), The Best Lawyers in America (2009–2012), and Northern California Super Lawyers (2005–2011). He was inducted into the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel as a Fellow in 2011.
Mr. Baker is co-chair of the American Bar Association’s ERISA and Pension Litigation Subcommittee of the Committee on Business and Corporate Litigation. Since 2006 he has been the primary author and Editor of the “ERISA Litigation” chapter for the ABA’s Annual “Developments in Business and Corporate Law” treatise. He is the Contributing Editor of the Benefits Law Journal. He also serves as a mediator on ERISA cases for the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Eastern districts of California. In addition, he is a volunteer attorney for the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.
Mr. Baker previously practiced at Winston & Strawn. He received his B.A. in 1975 and his J.D. in 1980 from Santa Clara University. He received his L.L.M. in Tax from Georgetown University in 1983.