Chirag Shah is the firm’s managing director and has over 18 years of experience practicing in the full spectrum of labor, employment and employee benefits law. He serves as independent counsel to the board of the largest public pension system in the United States, ERISA counsel to numerous employee benefit trusts, and general counsel to several private-sector labor unions and small businesses. Mr. Shah began his career with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in Washington, DC, and worked as an associate in a large law firm and a partner in a small law firm before starting Shah and Associates, APLC, in August 2009. He worked full-time through high school, college, law school, and Georgetown University Law Center’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Certificate in Employee Benefits Law programs.
ERISA and Employee Benefits Practice
In his benefits practice, Mr. Shah serves as benefits counsel to many (large, mid-size, and small) corporate as well as multi-employer, collectively bargained Taft-Hartley trusts, labor-management cooperation committees and apprenticeship trusts governed by administrative committees and boards of trustee. On a daily basis, he advises sponsors, committees, trustees, fiduciaries, administrators, consultants, investment managers, accountants, and administrative personnel of retirement and health and welfare benefit plans, funds and programs in all aspects of administration, compliance, and litigation. Mr. Shah has provided “lead counsel” or “sole counsel” advice to private boards of trustee and public pension boards throughout California. The areas of law that Mr. Shah works with on a daily basis include the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, the Internal Revenue Code, the Health Care Reform Law, the California Government Code, the California Public Employees’ Retirement Law, the California Public Employees’ Medical and Hospital Care Act, the California Code of Revenue and Taxation, the Administrative Procedures Act (state and federal), due process and constitutional law, and probate and community property law as they relate to employee benefit plans. The asset value of employee benefit plans that Mr. Shah has been involved in has ranged from $2 million to over $280 billion.
In June 2011, Mr. Shah was appointed independent counsel to the Board of Administration of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System—which is the largest health and pension system in the United States. Mr. Shah also serves on the Attorney Conflicts Panel established by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office with respect to pension and fiduciary matters involving the City of Los Angeles’ three public pension systems. In July 2007, he was ERISA counsel in collective-bargaining that resulted in the establishment of two historic private Taft-Hartley trusts valued over $100 million on the first day of their operation.
Labor and Employment Practice
In his labor and employment law practice, Mr. Shah handles all aspects of the counseling and litigation, including arbitration, administrative proceedings, and state and federal court litigation. Mr. Shah regularly practices before the National Labor Relations Board as well as other federal and state agencies such as the United States Department of Labor and the California Department of Industrial Relations. This side of the practice also encompasses construction industry labor law, including prevailing wage compliance and public works enforcement.
Background and Educational Information
Mr. Shah received a Master of Laws (LL.M.) with honors in labor and employment law and a special study Certificate in Employee Benefits Law from Georgetown University Law Center in 2000, while working full-time at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. He received a Juris Doctor in 1996 from Northeastern University School of Law, where he was selected to serve as Teaching Assistant to Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law Michael S. Dukakis, former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic Presidential Nominee, in a brand new course on community based urban economic development, which was the first time such a course was offered by any law school in the country. That work led him to an appointment on the Advisory Board of The Urban Law and Public Policy Institute at Northeastern University, while he was still in law school. During law school, Mr. Shah also completed full-time externships with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts (where he also participated in a year-long confidential investigation), Massachusetts Appeals Court Justice Roderick L. Ireland (subsequently Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court), The Gillette Company, Office of the General Counsel, and Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP.
Mr. Shah received his undergraduate degree with double majors (B.S. in Management with Accounting Concentration and Second Major in Political Science) from the University of Massachusetts in 1992, while working full-time at a major mutual fund company.
In 2003, Mr. Shah was named one of 23 “Best Lawyers Under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and featured in a group cover story captioned Rising Young Stars: Top Asian-Pacific American Lawyers in an insert to American Corporate Counsel magazine. A year later, Mr. Shah was the youngest person in history to be named “Law Star” by lawcrossing.com.
Mr. Shah regularly updates a 200-plus page chapter, “Retirement, Pension, and Health and Welfare Benefits,” covering almost every aspect of ERISA and employee benefits law in the Employee and Union Member Guide to Labor Law – published by the National Lawyers Guild and Thomson Reuters/West. Immediately prior to law school, Mr. Shah worked full-time during college and thereafter for over five years in retirement planning, plan/trust administration, and investment management of employee benefit plan assets at a major mutual fund company. Before starting Shah and Associates, APLC in 2009, Mr. Shah was a partner in a small law firm and worked as an associate in a large law firm. He started his career with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel headquarters in Washington, DC.
Mr. Shah has extensive personal experience serving on numerous governing boards and committees of a variety of nonprofit organizations as a component of his unwavering commitment to public and community service. Among his community service work, Mr. Shah has served on the governing boards of East West Players (Los Angeles-based nonprofit theater, Vice President and Pro Bono Labor and Employment Counsel, 2000-2009), Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (pro bono legal services provider, Board Member, Fundraising Committee, 2004-2009), Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance (Los Angeles and South Bay taxi workers’ employee association, Co-founder and Pro Bono Organizer and Attorney, 2004-2009), Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County (Board Member; Chair, Pro Bono Services and Community Education Committee, 2001-2004), Multi-Cultural Bar Alliance of Southern California (Chair/President, 2005-2006 and 2007-2008; Board Member, 2000-2009), and South Asian Bar Association of Southern California (Board Member; Co-chair, Scholarship Committee and Public Policy Committee, 2002-2003).