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Edward Bernard

Edward M. Bernard

(415) 995-5807


Ed is the Employee Benefits Practice Leader and has been with Hanson Bridgett for 16 years. He has advised employers and employee benefit plans, both public and private, large and small, on all aspects of plan design, implementation, and administration, as well as on tax, regulatory, and fiduciary compliance for 20 years.

At previous firms, Ed counseled for-profit, tax-exempt, and governmental clients on complex employee benefit transactions as well as federal and state tax and regulatory compliance, including advising Taft-Hartley funds.

Before becoming a lawyer, Ed worked for more than 10 years as a consultant and plan administrator with a major mutual fund company, a bank, and an insurance company. This gives him unique hands-on experience administering employee benefit plans. In these roles, he designed, drafted, and administered qualified and 403(b) plans, performed nondiscrimination testing, and prepared and filed Forms 5500. As a result, Ed understands the practical as well as the legal complexities facing plans, plan sponsors, and fiduciaries.

Ed has extensive experience in both public and private qualified and nonqualified defined contribution and defined benefit plan design, implementation, administration and compliance, including designing top-hat supplemental executive retirement plans and 457(f) plans. In the health and welfare arena, he designs and drafts cafeteria plans, disability plans, HRAs and other retiree medical plans, and VEBA, 115 trust and 401(h) account funding vehicles. He also advises clients regarding ACA, HIPAA, and COBRA compliance.

In addition, Ed regularly advises clients on employment tax compliance, including advising public sector employers on Social Security coverage issues. Ed draws on this breadth of experience to help clients find creative and practical solutions to complex employee benefits issues.

Areas of Focus


J.D. University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law ( 2003 )
B.A. Earlham College ( 1986 )

Admissions and Courts



Employee Benefits Practice Leader

Large public agency retirement program redesign. Advised client on options for redesigning its retirement benefit program to better suit demographics and organizational objectives in accordance with state and federal law, and led a team that coordinated and implemented the selected design.

IRS voluntary correction program. Represented clients before the IRS to resolve a broad range of complex qualified retirement plan issues, and successfully resolved an IRS qualified plan audit.

Taxation of fringe benefits. Advised clients on taxation matters, including paid-time off, leave-sharing programs, transportation benefits, reimbursements, service-related disability payments, and Employer Paid Member Contributions to a state retirement system.

Affordable Care Act. Advised on compliance and implementation of required tracking and reporting processes and procedures and helped resolve employer shared responsibility penalties.

Negotiation of benefit changes. Advised clients on negotiating benefit changes for represented employees in accordance with state and federal law.

Public employee Social Security coverage. Counseled public sector employers on obtaining Social Security coverage for their employees through the state’s section 218 agreement modification process, including retroactive error modifications.

Large public agency pension reform unwind. Advised on associated state and federal tax law issues, assisted in bargaining negotiations, and drafted plan amendments and ordinances needed to implement agreed-upon resolution.

American Bar Association

American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries

Western Pension & Benefits Conference

"Employer-Paid Abortion Travel Coverage Triggers Tax Consequences," Bloomberg Law (June 2022)

"IRS to halt issuing certain determination letters," Pensions & Investments (June 2015)

"Be Ready for More ACA Penalties," Society for Human Resource Management (August 2018)