Carolyn M. McAllister, Partner


Carolyn McAllister is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Group who focuses her practice in Employee Benefits. She helps employers navigate the complex, always-changing, legal requirements impacting employee benefits. She works with public and private companies, and tax-exempt organizations to solve compliance, design, risk and correction issues concerning their employee benefit plans.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Carolyn has helped plan sponsors of retirement and health and welfare plans to understand the impact of COVID-19-related legislative on their plans. She has given practical advice to ensure compliance with new guidance and timely communications with plan participants.

Representative Experience

  • Counseling plan sponsors on the impact of coronavirus-related furloughs and layoffs on their retirement plans
  • Advising employers on changes to COBRA notices, election periods and subsidies during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Counseling plan sponsors regarding COVID-19 vaccine incentives
  • Advising employers on severance agreements and voluntary separation pay plans
  • Analyzing and discussing options for plan sponsors to reduce, suspend or delay employer contributions to retirement plans due to economic conditions caused by COVID-19
  • Counseling plan sponsors on Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance, including affordability requirements, information reporting and assessment of employer shared responsibility payments
  • Advising employers on design and compliance issues relating to retirement plans, executive compensation, health and welfare plans and fringe benefits
  • Drafting and restating 401(k) plans, defined benefit pension plans, ERISA welfare wrap plans and nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements
  • Counseling employers on matters relating to cafeteria (section 125) plans, flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), wellness programs and retiree medical benefits
  • Analyzing risks and compliance issues for employee benefit plans in mergers and acquisitions, including considerations relating to defined benefit pension plans, multiemployer plans and ACA penalties
  • Advising companies on equity-based incentives and preparing plan documents and grant agreements for stock options, restricted stock, stock appreciation rights, phantom equity, and profits interests
  • Counseling employers on partial and complete withdrawals from multiemployer pension plans and challenging withdrawal liability assessments
  • Assisting employers during Department of Labor (DOL) investigations and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits of employee benefit plans
  • Preparing filings under the IRS and DOL correction programs for complex operational errors involving retirement plans


  • Qualified Retirement Plans (401(k), 403(b) and Defined Benefit Pension Plans)
  • Health and Welfare Plans
  • Executive Compensation
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Employee Benefits Plans in Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Prior to attending law school, Carolyn trained as an electrical engineer and also worked as a staff accountant for financial institutions. She lived in Germany and acquired a working knowledge of the German language.

Legal Services

Education and Honors

  • University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D., magna cum laude, 2004)
    • Order of the Coif
  • Cornell University (B.S.E.E., 1997)
    • Major: Electrical Engineering

Bar Admissions

  • Wisconsin

Professional and Civic Activities

  • Milwaukee Bar Association (Member)
  • State Bar of Wisconsin (Member)
  • Metro Milwaukee Society for Human Resource Management (Member)
  • Wisconsin Retirement Plan Professionals, Ltd. (former Board Member, 2011-2015; former President, 2014, 2015)
  • Vineyard Community Church (Board Chair, 2019-Present; former Board Member, 2011-2014)
  • U.S. Peace Corps, providing training in business planning to nationals of Kyrgyzstan (1998)


  • German
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