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Mayer Brown ERISA Defense Lawyer Netter Joins Justice Department

May 12, 2021, 5:03 PM

Former Mayer Brown ERISA litigator Brian Netter has landed at the Justice Department after nine years of defending clients including AT&T Inc., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Northrop Grumman Corp.

Netter left Mayer Brown’s Washington office, where he was a partner for seven years, to become deputy assistant attorney general with the Justice branch that represents federal agencies in civil litigation in U.S. district courts, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Justice gains Netter’s experience under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which sets minimum standards for retirement and health plans in private industry. Firms’ ERISA litigation practices have grown during the pandemic, with Big Law operations such as Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher starting practice areas to coordinate resources.

His departure was made public through court filings noting his withdrawal from several class action cases, including Cunningham v. Cornell University, in which university workers claimed retirement plan administrators failed to monitor record-keeping fees.

He also was part of a Mayer Brown and Winston & Strawn team representing members of the U.S. women’s soccer team in a pay discrimination case. A U.S. district court judge in California last month gave final approval to the settlement between the team and U.S. Soccer Federation Inc. of part of the women’s class sex-bias suit. The ruing allowed the team to appeal its loss in May of 2020 on the issue of equal pay.

Netter did not respond to questions sent to Justice’s public affairs office. When asked whether he’ll work on any of the ERISA class action cases he handled at Mayer Brown, Justice spokesperson Dena Iverson pointed to the department’s conflicts policy. The policy says DOJ employees must avoid, unless authorized, matters that involve past employers.

His former firm declined to discuss Netter’s cases or clients. “Mayer Brown has a rich history of public service among its lawyers, and we wish Brian well in his role at the Department of Justice,” said Raj De, managing partner of the firm’s Washington office.

The women’s soccer team case is Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Fed’n, Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 2:19-cv-01717, partial settlement approved, partial final judgment granted 4/12/21.

—Jacklyn Wille contributed to this report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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