Tess Ferrera, Member

Tess Ferrera has more than 20 years of experience counseling and litigating matters involving fiduciary obligations under ERISA. Before entering private practice, Tess was an ERISA trial attorney for the Department of Labor (DOL). Tess provides advice and handles litigation under ERISA for a diverse group of clients, including financial institutions, insurance companies, investment advisers, multi-employer board of trustees, plan fiduciaries and non-fiduciary service providers’ to plans. Her experience with the DOL provides her with a unique understanding of the legal landscape in this highly specialized field.

Tess has an extensive track record representing individuals and institutions under DOL investigations conducted by every Regional Office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) in the country. She is well-versed in handling the complicated regulatory environment of multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) and routinely advises entities that sponsor these types of health arrangements. She has also counseled employers and health insurance issuers on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Tess’s goal is to guide clients through process changes that will help them comply with ERISA’s challenging regulatory environment, and ultimately avoid litigation.

700 12th NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005

phone: 202-440-3809

Professional Recognitions
Fellow, American College of Employee Benefits Counsel (ACEBC)
Heroes of Child Justice Pro Bono Award, 2016
Kilpatrick Stockton, LLP: Fish Out of Water Pro Bono Award, 2004
Chambers USA: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (District of Columbia), 2004 – 2006
United States Department of Labor: Secretary’s Exceptional Achievement Award, 1992 and 1994; Special Achievement Award, 1991 and 1995

American Bar Association
Hispanic National Bar Association
Women’s Bar Association of District of Columbia
National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO)

Licensed to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia
Admitted in the following federal courts:
     United States Supreme Court
     United States Tax Court
     United States District Court for the District of Columbia
     United States District Court for the District of Maryland
     U. S. Court of Appeal, Fifth Circuit
     U. S. Court of Appeal, Ninth Circuit
     U. S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

Government Experience
Trial Attorney, Office of the Solicitor, Plan Benefits Security Division, U.S. Department of Labor, 1990-1996


  • Author, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Edition of Wolters Kluwer ERISA Fiduciary Answer Book and annual supplements;
  • Co-Authored the Third and Fourth Edition of ERISA Fiduciary Answer Book and annual supplements.


Author article, A Tale of Two Trials: The Negligible Impact of the Tibble and Tussey Decisions, ERISA Litigation Update, Journal of Pension Benefits (Winter 2013).

Author article, CIGNA Corp v. Amara: In One Fell Swoop, Supreme Court Shakes Two Principles that Were Thought to Be Bedrock, ERISA Litigation Update, Journal of Pension Benefits (Autumn 2011).

Co-author article, DOL Proposed Rule Expands Definition of Fiduciary Investment Advice, (Pension Benefits April 2015).

Co-author article, DOL Proposes Rule Redefining Fiduciary Status in the Investment Advice Context, (Schiff Hardin Newsletter June 3, 2015).

Co-author article, Supreme Court Tells Insurers Not to Twiddle Their Thumbs, (Employee Benefits February 1, 2016).

Speeches and Presentations

Tess frequently speaks to compliance officers, in-house lawyers, and other industry practitioners on a variety of topics related to ERISA litigation and matters involving ERISA’s fiduciary and prohibited transaction provisions.

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1990
George Washington University, B.A., Psychology, 1980