Karen L. Handorf is Senior Counsel at Berger Montague and a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits & ERISA practice group, where she represents the interests of employees, retirees, plan sponsors, plan participants and beneficiaries in employee benefit and ERISA cases in the district court and on appeal. Ms. Handorf brings four decades of ERISA knowledge to Berger Montague’s practice, where she will focus on emergent issues in health care, with a particular focus on the actions of insurance carrier TPAs that exercise fiduciary duties under ERISA-covered health plans. Ms. Handorf also advises employers and other plan sponsors on the provisions in their administrative service agreements that might cause them to unwittingly violate ERISA or other employee benefit laws. Ms. Handorf is also focused on other legal violations related to patient health care under other (non-ERISA) federal statutes and state consumer statutes in her efforts to address the exorbitant health care costs facing most Americans.

Prior to joining Berger Montague, Ms. Handorf was a partner at another prominent plaintiffs’ class action firm and the immediate-past chair and then co-chair of that firm’s Employee Benefits/ERISA practice group, where she led efforts in identifying, litigating, and when necessary, appealing often novel employee benefits issues. In that role, Ms. Handorf was one of the pioneers of the church plan litigation against organizations claiming to be exempt from ERISA due to their affiliation with or status as religious organizations.

Prior to that, Ms. Handorf had a distinguished career in government service. She spent 25 years at the Department of Labor, where, among other senior positions, she was the Deputy Associate Solicitor in the Plan Benefits Security Division. During her tenure at the Department of Labor, Ms. Handorf played a major role in formulating and litigating the Government’s position on a wide variety of ERISA issues, from conception through expression in amicus briefs filed by the United States Solicitor General in the United States Supreme Court

Professional Leadership

  • House of Representatives: Education & Labor Committee 
    Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee

Business and Community Leadership

  • 2019: American Conference Institute National Forum on ERISA Litigation, Supreme Court Practitioner’s Panel
  • 2020: ABA Tax Session’s 2020 Fall Tax Meeting, “How the DOL Declared War on ESG Investments)
  • 2019 and 2020: Practicing Law Institute, “Applying ERISA Fiduciary Rules to Health Plans, Services and Products” (Health Plans Litigation Update)
  • 2015-2019: Practicing Law Institute, “Pension Plan Investments – Current Perspectives” (ERISA Pension Litigation Update)
  • 2019: ABA’s ERISA Basics National Institute (Remedies and Preemptions Panels)
  • 2019: ABA Employee Benefits Committee Midwinter Meeting, “Will the States Step Into the Benefit Void”
  • 2018: American Conference Institute, National Forum on ERISA Litigation, ESOP Litigation
  • 2017: ABA ERISA National Litigation Institute, “ERISA Healthcare Provider Litigation”
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Honors & Awards


  • 2023: The Leapfrog Group, co-authored “The CAA and Health Care Quality”
  • 2019: Benefits Magazine, co-authored “Engaging and Monitoring Health Plan TPAs: Understanding Your Fiduciary Obligations”
  • 2019: Law360, co-authored “Watch These ERISA Cases in 2019”2022: Improving Retirement Security and Access to Mental Health Benefits
  • 2017: Law360, co-authored “Carefully Tailored ERISA Claims After Amgen v. Harris”
  • 2017: co-authored ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employee Benefits Committee Newsletter, “A Rule in Flux”


  • Member – District of Columbia
  • Member – Wisconsin
  • Admitted – United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • Admitted – Second Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Admitted – Third Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Admitted – Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Admitted – Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Admitted – Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Admitted – Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Admitted – The United States Supreme Court