Patricia S. Cain

Of Counsel


  • Northwestern Pritzker School of Law (J.D., 1977), magna cum laude
  • Georgetown University (A.B., 1974), summa cum laude,

    Phi Beta Kappa

Related Services

Patty advises employers, fund sponsors and investors on compliance with the legal rules that regulate benefit plans and funds in which benefit plans invest. Patty advises employers on the full spectrum of employee benefit matters, with a particular focus on the design, implementation and administration of broad-based pension and retirement plans, health and other welfare benefit plans, and executive compensation programs. She has extensive experience in assisting employers with unionized and nonunionized workforces. She also represents employers and benefit plans in disputes arising under benefit plans, both in the administrative claims process and in federal court.

She devotes a substantial portion of her practice to addressing numerous situations and transactions that impact her clients’ benefit plans. She counsels employers on how to implement changes to their benefit programs, including participant communications and compliance with legal requirements. When a client is engaged in a merger or acquisition, Patty advises the client on the benefit plan impact of the transaction, including potential costs and risks and the impact of the transaction on the client’s benefit plans. Patty frequently helps employers in obtaining rulings from, and resolving controversies with, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Patty also advises clients on the selection of an executive compensation program that meets the client’s objectives. This includes implementing equity incentive plans that provide stock grants and/or stock options for corporations and similar equity programs for limited liability companies and partnerships. She also advises clients on phantom equity plans and other compensation programs that may be better suited to a client’s needs. 

Patty is also experienced in advising sponsors of hedge funds and private equity funds on their obligations to benefit plan investors and how to structure their funds (both offshore and onshore) to avoid the funds being subject to ERISA. Patty also represents benefit plan investors who invest in such alternative funds on their ERISA obligations.

Clients describe her as “extremely bright and knowledgeable.” Patty uses her exceptional breadth of experience and her active listening skills to provide creative approaches to resolve difficult legal and business problems.

Patty is a member of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion and Retirement Plans Committees.

  • Advising an employer on integrating employees from an acquired company into its retirement and benefit plans
  • Advising private equity funds, hedge funds and other alternative asset sponsors and investors with regard to the structure of their respective funds and investments (offshore and onshore)
  • Advising an employer on the restructuring of its retirement benefit program. 
  • Representing key executives in connection with mergers and acquisitions.
  • Advising employers on compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
  • Counseling employers on the design and administration of executive compensation plans.
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, recommended in “Labor & Employment: Employee Benefits & Compensation” since 2008
  • The Legal 500 United States, recommended in “Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans: Design” since 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America, recommended in “Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law” since 2007 and named "Lawyer of the Year" for 2021
  • Illinois Super Lawyers, recommended in “Employee Benefits” since 2005
  • "Notable Women in Law,” Crain’s Chicago Business, 2020
  • Chicago Business Journal, “2016 Women of Influence Award”
  • Leading Lawyers, selected as a “2014 Top 10 Employee Benefits Lawyer”

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • New York