Deborah L Grace

Deborah L. Grace


Education & Credentials


Kalamazoo College

B.A., 1979

Wayne State University School of Law

J.D., 1983

Bar Admission

  • Michigan1983


  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America - Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2010-Present)
  • Listed in Michigan Super Lawyers - Employee Benefits/ERISA (2010-Present)
  • DBusiness Top Lawyers Employee Benefits Law (2013-Present)
  • Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2009)

Representative Clients

  • ACO, Inc.
  • Active Interest Media, Inc.
  • Clarkston Community Schools
  • Gestamp North America
  • Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A., Inc.
  • Oakland Community College
  • Troy Gastroenterology, Inc.

Prominent Assignments

Principal employee benefits counsel to public and private companies, advising them on all aspects of the design, implementation and administration of all types of retirement plans, including 401(k), profit sharing, defined benefit, SEP, SIMPLE-IRAs, 403(b), and 457 plans.

Extensive experience advising companies on the design, implementation and administration of insured and self-insured medical plans, dental plans, life insurance, disability, and cafeteria plans, including pre-tax premium plans and flexible spending account plans.

Counsel private companies and equity funds on the benefits implications of business acquisitions and dispositions, including due diligence review and advising on the integration of benefit programs based on the structure of the business deal.

Negotiated favorable results for clients correcting retirement plan administration errors using the IRS' Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System.

Counsel to defined benefit plan offering lump sum window benefits to terminated vested participants, thereby reducing company's market risk.

Extensive experience advising public and private companies on ERISA compliance, including advice regarding reporting and disclosure requirements, and fiduciary responsibility, prohibited transaction and plan investment issues.

Substantial experience advising companies on the Affordable Care Act, COBRA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Counsel private companies on executive compensation, including nonqualified deferred compensation plans, SERPs, excess benefit plans, stock option and other equity-based plans, and "rabbi" trusts.  

Professional Involvement

  • Past, Chairman of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Oakland County Bar Association
  • Michigan Bar Association, member of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Tax Section
  • American Bar Association Member, active on the Employee Benefits Committee of the Tax Section
  • Member, ASPPA Governmental Affairs Committee

Community Involvement

  • Legal Counsel to Angels' Place, a Michigan non-profit corporation


  • Presenter, “Covering Your Assets – Tough Talk and Best Practices about Your 401(k)” Webinar with Clayton & McKervey, December 2016
  • Presenter, “Fiduciary Best Practices & Department of Labor Updates”, Seminar sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Detroit, MI, July 2016
  • Presenter, “ERISA Fiduciary Duty for Retirement Plan Investment Decisions”, a Dickinson Wright Sunrise Seminar at Automation Alley, April 2016
  • Author, “New Department of Labor Rule Helps Plan Sponsors and IRA Owners Determine If Their Advisor is a Fiduciary Providing Impartial Investment Advice”, Dickinson Wright Tax Blog, April 2016
  • Author, “Affordable Care Act Update – Some Questions Answered, Some Relief Granted”, Dickinson Wright Client Alert, December 2015
  • Author, “Businesses under Common Control are Treated as one Entity under Certain Retirement and Welfare Plan Rules”, Dickinson Wright Tax Blog, October 2015
  • Author, “Time to Check the “Qualified” Status of a Company’s 401(k) or Profit Sharing Plan”, Dickinson Wright Tax Blog, September 2015
  • Presenter, "The Affordable Care Act," Webinar for members of Middle Tennessee chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) (2014)
  • Presenter, "The Affordable Care Act - Preparing for 2014," Sunrise Seminar (2013)
  • Author, "Determining if the Affordable Care Act "Play or Pay" Rules Apply to a Business," Dickinson Wright Client Alert (January 2013)
  • Author, "Penalties and Measuring Periods for Large Employers," Dickinson Wright Client Alert (February 2013)
  • Co-Author, "The HIPAA "Omnibus" Final Rule," Dickinson Wright Client Alert (January 2013)
  • Co-Author, "Participant Fee Disclosure Deadline Approaching," Dickinson Wright Client Alert (April 2012)
  • Co-Author, "New Rules Aid Plan Fiduciaries," Dickinson Wright Client Alert (April 2012)
  • Presenter, "Know Your Role and Control Your Risk: What Every CEO, CFO or Human Resources Director Should Know About Their Responsibilities In Administering a Retirement Plan," Sunrise Seminar (2011)
  • Presenter, "Yes, You Can Navigate the Maze of the New Health Care Reform Act," Sunrise Seminar (2010)
  • Frequent lecturer for educational and commercial seminars and presentations on 401(k), 403(b), HIPAA and other employee benefits and estate planning topics.
  • Lecturer, Council on Education in Management Health Care Benefits Forum, "Complying with HIPAA and COBRA: Legislative Issues Impacting Your Health Care Plan," 2005
  • Author, "What Steps Must an Employer Take to Comply with the New HIPAA Medical Privacy Law?," Laches, 2003
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