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Jonathan W. Harris

Chicago, IL | D 312.624.6316 | F 312.624.6309

Jonathan Harris has more than three decades of experience in all aspects of employee benefits and executive compensation.

Jonathan provides counsel to companies of all sizes, ranging from small, privately owned businesses to Fortune 100 corporations. He has significant experience with negotiating and drafting benefits service provider contracts; drafting plan documents, SPDs, and proxies; equity and incentive compensation; qualified, nonqualified, and health and welfare plan compliance; and benefits and executive compensation issues in mergers and acquisitions, most notably, a $40-billion acquisition of an integrated oil company, the $8-billion sale of a chemical business, and a spin-off to shareholders of a $20-billion food company. Jonathan is also adept at counseling and training fiduciaries, managing multiemployer plan issues, and dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. 

In more than 20 years as in-house benefits and executive compensation counsel for several large international corporations with tens of thousands of U.S. employees – including a significant number of union-represented employees, Jonathan managed cutting-edge medical and wellness benefit plan designs and pension and retiree healthcare designs, created new governance structures to minimize corporate involvement in benefits litigation, and negotiated major recordkeeping and claims administrator contracts.

Jonathan is married to an employment lawyer and has three daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys shepherding his teenager to ice hockey tournaments throughout the country, being walked by his dogs, and furthering his addiction to Peloton cycling. He also enjoys watching television programs written by his oldest daughter, a screenplay writer for shows that have aired on HBO, ABC, and USA Network.

education & admissions


  • Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law (J.D., 1984); Journal of International Law and Business, Editorial Board
  • Brandeis University (B.A., magna cum laude, 1980)

state admissions

  • Illinois, 1984
services & industries
  • Created legal strategies to avoid potential partial withdrawal liability of $200 million with respect to a major multiemployer plan following a plant shutdown
  • Secured a financial settlement from a large 401(k) plan recordkeeper in connection with the recordkeeper's receipt of undisclosed payments from a separate, unrelated vendor
  • Successfully defended class action litigation involving union retirees' claims that retiree health changes violated applicable collective bargaining agreements
  • Successfully defended IRS and DOL on-site benefits plan audits without penalty or other proposed adjustment
  • Successfully challenged indemnity provisions in a leading private health exchange vendor’s standard contract to give employer protection

publications & events
in the community
Perspectives on employee benefits, executive compensation and ERISA litigation to help you attract and retain talent.
lingua negoti
The language of business.
Ohio Environmental
Insights and commentary for the business and legal community.