David McFarlane

Los Angeles
Phone: +1 213.443.5573
515 South Flower Street
40th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071

David McFarlane is an ERISA partner in the firm's Corporate, Health Care, Tax, and Labor & Employment groups in Crowell & Moring’s Los Angeles office. David has more than 25 years of experience in the U.S. and Canada advising on all matters under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code and other applicable laws related to pensions, retirement, health and welfare plans, employee benefits, equity and deferred compensation plans, and other matters relating to executive compensation. David and his ERISA colleagues have an in-depth knowledge and experience in advising clients on ERISA plan asset investment and prohibited transaction rules, private equity investments, fund structuring, ERISA fiduciary protection, cybersecurity risks, national and international corporate transactions, regulatory filings, and bankruptcy reorganizations. David is also well known for his knowledge of ERISA, the Affordable Care Act, and private and public health plan matters including fiduciary audit and protection for corporate plan sponsors.

David and his team have developed a unique Fixed-Fee ERISA Fiduciary Protection Program for corporate plan sponsors of retirement, health, and other employee benefit plans to ensure compliance with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, the Affordable Care Act, and other laws in order to best protect plan sponsors and their Boards of Directors, officers, and other employees from personal liability under ERISA.

David has been active in leadership roles for a variety of public and private institutions and organizations including president of the Canadian American Bar Association, judge pro tem of the Superior Court of California, vice-chair of the board of directors at Barlow Respiratory Hospital, president of the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, and president of the Western Pension & Benefit Council (Los Angeles).

Prior to joining Crowell & Moring, David was a former partner in the Canadian law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt before joining Skadden Arps in Los Angeles for 13 years. David is a frequent speaker and writer on matters related to his practice as well as diversity in the practice of law. He was recently recognized in the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the “Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Los Angeles.”


Admitted to practice: California; Ontario, Canada (inactive)

Professional Activities and Memberships

  • Canadian American Bar Association – Past President
  • Barlow Respiratory Hospital – Former Vice-Chair, Board of Directors
  • LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles– Past Co President
  • UCLA School of Nursing – Former Advisory Board Member
  • Western Pension & Benefits Council, Los Angeles – Past President

Highlights, News & Knowledge

Speeches & Presentations

  • "Employee Benefits 2021 – Post COVID Tax Strategies for Stock Options – Repricing v. Exchange," Crowell & Moring's Managing Tax Audits and Appeals Seminar 2021 (October 4, 2021). Speakers: David McFarlane, Samuel W. Krause, and Anthony G. Provenzano
  • "COVID-19: Pull Down Your Mask, Deep Breath – Impact on Retirement Plans, Health Plans & Executive Compensation," Crowell & Moring's Managing Tax Audits and Appeals Seminar 2020 (October 9, 2020). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "What’s Next for Your Employees: Congress Responds with New Rules for Employment and Benefit Programs," Crowell & Moring Webinar (April 2, 2020). Presenters: Thomas P. Gies, David McFarlane, S. Starling Marshall, and Christine B. Hawes.
  • "Trends in Litigation: Review and Analysis of Landmark Litigation Withdrawal Liability," 17th Annual Made in America: Taft Hartley Benefits Summit, Las Vegas, NV (January 21, 2020). Speaker: David McFarlane.
  • "Fiduciary Liability in Healthcare," 17th Annual Made in America: Taft Hartley Benefits Summit, Las Vegas, NV (January 20, 2020). Speakers: David McFarlane and Samuel W. Krause.
  • "Current Issues Regarding Taxation of Independent Contractors," Crowell & Moring's Managing Tax Audits and Appeals Seminar 2019, Washington, D.C. (September 12, 2019). Presenters: David McFarlane, Glenn D. Grant, and Samuel W. Krause.
  • "Third Thursday--C&M’s June Labor & Employment Update: Supreme Court Watch 2019 – A Recap and a Look Forward," Crowell & Moring Webinar (June 20, 2019). Presenters: Thomas P. Gies, David McFarlane, Suzanne Rode, and Jillian Ambrose.
  • "Avoiding Fringe Benefit Pitfalls: Tax Traps, De Minimis Rules, Correction Procedures, Fiduciary Risks," Strafford Webinar (April 2, 2019). Co-Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "2019 Economic Forecast, Plan Compliance & Litigation Update," BDO Orange County Office, Costa Mesa, CA (January 23, 2019). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "2019 Retirement Plan Economic Forecast, Plan Compliance & Litigation Update," BDO USA, Costa Mesa, CA (November 28, 2018). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "10 Awesome Golden ERISA Rules for Health Plans (and 179 Less Awesome Bronze Ones)," American Health Lawyers Association In-House Counsel Institute, Chicago, IL (November 2, 2018). Speaker: David McFarlane.
  • "Running With Scissors and Other Prohibited, Bad and Silly Tax Practices to Avoid in the ERISA-World," 2018 Managing Tax Audits and Appeals Seminar, Washington, DC (September 27, 2018). Speaker: David McFarlane.
  • "Bitcoin in Your 401(k)? Doesn't Matter, Cyber-Thieves Are Going to Hack and Drain it Anyway," 2018 Global TEC Forum, Austin, TX (April 12, 2018). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "How Did THAT Happen? ERISA’s Sharpening Scrutiny on Health Care," 2017 California Society for Healthcare Attorneys (CSHA) Fall Seminar, Los Angeles, CA (November 3, 2017). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "Global Mobility – Where I am, Why it Matters," Tax Executives Institute (TEI), Toronto, Canada (October 23, 2017). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "Employee Benefits - Scratch the Tax - HSA's - Move Over 401(k)s," Crowell & Moring's Managing Tax Audits and Appeals Seminar 2017, Washington, D.C. (October 5, 2017). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "Third Thursday--C&M's July Labor & Employment Update: Following the Supreme Court: A New Approach to Judicial Review of Government Agency Decisions?," Crowell & Moring Webinar (July 20, 2017). Presenters: Thomas P. Gies, David McFarlane, Daniel W. Wolff, Glenn D. Grant, and Jillian Ambrose.
  • "Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 – Claims, Trends & Compliance," Lexis Nexis Webinar (July 19, 2017). Presenter: David McFarlane.
  • "HSAs, Archer MSAs and the New Challenges of Open State Competition for Health Plans," National Audience of BCBS Attendees, Orlando, FL (May 9, 2017). Speaker: David McFarlane.
  • "ACA, Control Groups and Related Issues," ASPPA/WPBC Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA (August 2015). Speaker: David McFarlane.
  • "Recent D.C. Trends and Litigation," Blue Cross/Blue Shield Western Operations Conference, San Diego, CA (June 2015). Speaker: David McFarlane.
  • "Legal Privilege in International Business Matters," IACD (International Association of Defense Counsel) Annual Meeting, Whistler, B.C. (July 2011). Speaker: David McFarlane.
  • "Employee Benefit and Compensation Issues in Acquiring or Selling a Privately Held Company," Practicing Law Institute, Beverly Hills, CA (June 2009). Speaker: David McFarlane.


Client Alerts & Newsletters

Media Mentions

Firm News & Announcements

Dec.16.2019 DEAL NOTE: Crowell & Moring Advises Humana Inc. on Acquisition of Enclara Healthcare
Jun.12.2019 Los Angeles County Bar Association Names David McFarlane LGBTQ Pride Month Honoree
Feb.08.2018 Crowell & Moring Partner David McFarlane Recognized as One of Los Angeles Business Journal's "Most Influential Minority Attorneys"
Nov.28.2017 DEAL NOTE: Crowell & Moring Represents Novume Solutions in Acquisition of NeoSystems
Oct.11.2016 Established ERISA/ACA Lawyer David McFarlane Joins Crowell & Moring’s Corporate Practice