Public Pension Law

For more than 20 years, Burke Burns & Pinelli, Ltd. has provided counsel to a significant number of Illinois public pension funds. The legal services provided to the funds by our BBP public pension law attorneys cover a broad spectrum of issues in terms of both transactions and litigation.

Every Illinois public pension fund faces a myriad of issues in the normal course of business. Our BBP attorneys provide advice on every aspect of public pension fund governance and operations, from straightforward state laws applicable to public agencies in general to specific issues arising under state and federal laws and regulations applicable to public pension funds. BBP's pension law attorneys can be reached by calling our Chicago office at 312-541-8600.

Comprehensive Counsel and Representation

The substantial experience and knowledge of our BBP attorneys includes advising funds on unique issues such as:

  • Fiduciary obligations of members of the board of trustees
  • Utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses
  • Maximization of investment returns within a rational risk strategy
  • Conformance to ethics rules
  • Implementation of new legislative initiatives
  • Funding concerns
  • Legislative interpretation
  • Drafting and proposing legislative changes
  • Procurement of fiduciary liability insurance
  • Responding to investigations and document production requests from regulatory agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Labor and the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission

Our BBP public pension law attorneys possess comprehensive knowledge of federal and Illinois laws and regulations that apply to pension funds, including:

  • Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act
  • Illinois Open Meetings Act
  • Illinois Freedom of Information Act
  • Illinois Pension Code
  • Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
  • Federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
  • Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Orders (QILDRO)
  • Federal Investment Advisers Act of 1940
  • Illinois Administrative Review Law

For our public pension fund clients, BBP provides a comprehensive range of services, including:

  • Ongoing counsel and advice on legal matters and issues
  • Assistance drafting, reviewing, and negotiating agreements and contracts
  • Representation in regulatory agency investigations and inquiries
  • Representation in administrative hearings and litigation in federal and state courts

Notable Clients

Our BBP public pension fund clients include:

  • Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago
  • County Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago
  • Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago
  • Illinois State Board of Investment
  • State Universities Retirement System

Representative Matters

Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago

BBP’s representation of the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago (FABF) over the past 20 years illustrates the range of our abilities and experience. As general legal counsel to the fund, our attorneys advise the eight-person board, committees, and staff on statutory and regulatory matters, as well as legislative proposals.

We assist in all aspects of the client's regular, additional, and ad hoc meetings, including preparation, conduct, and conclusion. A significant portion of BBP's representation involves matters relating to grant of disability and retirement benefits, which entail detailed administrative evidentiary hearings.

Our BBP attorneys also advise the client on investment-related matters. The fund actively invests approximately $1.1 billion in assets and utilizes at least 20 investment managers of different types. We attend each monthly investment committee meetings and frequently advise the client on contractual and other legal matters relating to investments and third-party manager relationships. Our attorneys have negotiated numerous investment management agreements for the client, and have also worked with the client’s chief investment officer to streamline the process of negotiating the agreements to make them more consistent. Our work also involves review of numerous private equity subscription and limited partnership agreements.

In addition to representing the client in administrative hearings, our BBP litigation attorneys represent the FABF in all administrative review actions filed in Illinois circuit and appellate courts. Our attorneys also represent the client in federal court cases, including discrimination actions.

Several years ago, we represented the client in negotiations and subsequent litigation with the City of Chicago and the union representing Chicago firemen regarding health care benefits for retirees. The health care benefits negotiation and litigation raised a number of other employment-related issues. Our BBP attorneys advised the client on the benefit coverage issues, as well as on prescription drug programs and Medicare/Medicaid issues. Resolution of the health care issues required a comprehensive settlement involving the city, unions representing the public employees, and all of the city pension funds. Legislative action was also required. Health care issues continue to be a major concern, and our BBP attorneys advise the client in that regard on an ongoing basis.

State Universities Retirement System

For more than 10 years, our BBP public pension law attorneys have advised and represented the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). Our work for the client has covered a broad range of subjects, including federal and state securities laws and regulations, investment matters and questions, social divestment initiatives, ethics, and procurement-related issues.

On an ongoing basis, BBP attorneys work closely with SURS staff and outside lobbyists monitoring legislation and drafting proposed legislation to address the evolving regulatory and investment environment. Attorney Mary Patricia Burns attends nearly every meeting of the board. She also advises the client on fiduciary and legal compliance issues.

During a period of transition for SURS several years ago, Attorney Burns worked with a new board of trustees to assist them in assuming their fiduciary roles. At the request of the client, Attorney Burns served on an interim basis as general counsel while a search was conducted for a new full-time general counsel. During that period of time, Attorney Burns worked closely with the new executive director on a daily basis to handle legal issues, including claims hearings. She also assisted in the selection of the new general counsel.

Illinois Public Pension Law Inquiries

BBP welcomes inquiries about our public pension law legal services. To schedule a consultation with our attorneys, please call our Chicago office at 312-541-8600 or complete our online contact form.