John J. McGowan Jr.

Partner

Cleveland
T +1.216.861.7475
F +1.216.696.0740

"fantastic - he's very technical, good at healthcare reform, and a creative and practical attorney."

— Chambers USA 2014

Overview

John McGowan has more than 30 years of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and related employment, tax, healthcare and securities law experience, representing benefit plans (and plan-covered individuals), plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries and executives. He is particularly adept at handling the special regulatory challenges and disputes that plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries and other stakeholders face when things go wrong, regardless of the root cause. John considers all aspects of matters facing his clients and crafts practical, long-term solutions that can withstand scrutiny. Particular areas of experience include multiemployer plan controversies, the Affordable Care Act, worker misclassification matters and executive compensation arrangements involving both public and privately held for-profit and nonprofit organizations (including both disclosure-related and transactional matters).

John is regularly ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation and in The Best Lawyers in America© (in which he twice has been named "Lawyer of the Year" (2014 and 2015).

Select Experience

  • In litigation spanning eight years, was a key member of a team representing a business owner who sold his family's business to the business's employees by setting up an employee stock ownership plan. The owner was then sued by a class consisting of current and former employees claiming the terms of the sale were unfair. Contentious litigation ensued, with three separate employee groups taking extreme positions. Following a series of strategic victories on key motions, including one forcing a division of the class into separate classes and the appointment of separate counsel and one involving the realignment of fiduciaries, the case was settled on terms economically favorable to the client.
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Experience

  • In litigation spanning eight years, was a key member of a team representing a business owner who sold his family's business to the business's employees by setting up an employee stock ownership plan. The owner was then sued by a class consisting of current and former employees claiming the terms of the sale were unfair. Contentious litigation ensued, with three separate employee groups taking extreme positions. Following a series of strategic victories on key motions, including one forcing a division of the class into separate classes and the appointment of separate counsel and one involving the realignment of fiduciaries, the case was settled on terms economically favorable to the client.
  • For the past 25 years, has regularly advised and represented nonprofit organizations, ranging from tax-exempt pension and welfare trust funds and tax-exempt trade associations, co-ops, educational institutions and public charities to taxable nonprofit mutual insurance companies, in connection with a variety of executive compensation, pension investment, and health and welfare plan regulatory matters.  
  • Helped an international manufacturer restructure its commitments, following the strategic acquisition of a failing business with substantial legacy costs. During the restructuring process, helped the client face down three class action lawsuits brought by retirees – a certified class action involving collectively bargained retirees, a putative class action involving management retirees and an enforcement action brought to enforce a consent decree the client was alleged to have violated, which stemmed from the settlement of a leveraged buyout involving the company that had sold the client its business. Appeared in the Second and Sixth U.S. Courts of Appeals and in U.S. district courts in Ohio, Connecticut and Alabama to overcome the three lawsuits, and eventually established a framework the client could use to modify or eliminate the retiree coverages, and thus control or eliminate the client's legacy costs.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Chambers USA: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation in Ohio (2006 to 2017)
    • Band 1 (2008 to 2017)
  • The Legal 500 United States 
    • Recommended in Labor and Employment: Employee benefits and executive compensation (2016)
    • Recommended in Employee health and retirement plans (2017)
    The Best Lawyers in America© (2008 to 2018)
    • Cleveland: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
      • Best Lawyers® 2014 "Lawyer of the Year"
    • Cleveland: Litigation - ERISA
      • Best Lawyers® 2015 "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Ohio "Super Lawyer" (2005 to 2016)

Memberships

  • American Bar Association 
    • Tax Law Section 
    • Labor and Employment Law Section (Employee Benefits Committee)
    • Tort and Insurance Law Section
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Internal Revenue Service: TEGE Advisory Council, Great Lakes Region

News

News

Press Releases

Industries

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1999
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1994
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1986
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 1996
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, 1994
  • U.S. Tax Court, 1986
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 2004
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, 1994
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 1984
  • Ohio

Education

  • J.D., University of Toledo College of Law, 1983
  • B.B.A., Accounting, University of Toledo, 1978