Jim Baker

James P. Baker

Senior Counsel
Baker & McKenzie LLP


James P. Baker heads the Firm's ERISA Litigation Practice Group. He is a nationally known ERISA litigator, listed by the National Law Journal as one of the Top Forty Benefits Lawyers in the United States. He has been named by his peers as one of The Top 100 lawyers in Northern California and is routinely recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America. For example, he was named "ERISA Litigation Lawyer of the Year" in 2012 by Best Lawyers in America. Chambers USA has recognized him every year since 2007 and identified him as one of its "Leaders in Their Field" (2015-2018). James is "an ERISA legend on the West Coast whose expertise has resulted in national acclaim," according to Chambers USA. He has been "handling very prominent cases and producing work of the highest quality." James has been listed as a leading attorney for ERISA litigation in Northern California Super Lawyers from 2005 to the present. He is an American College of Employee Benefits Counsel Fellow, and is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell. He is the past chair of the American Bar Association's ERISA and Pension Litigation Subcommittee of the Committee on Business and Corporate Litigation. James has also acted as a court-appointed mediator for ERISA cases in the Northern and Eastern Districts of California.

Practice Focus

James' national litigation practice has focused on defending matters raising complicated issues, including: fiduciary liability disputes; fiduciary misrepresentation claims; ESOP valuation lawsuits; 401(k) stock drop cases; plan asset diversification failures; prohibited transaction allegations; directed trustee claims; cash balance cases; independent contractor lawsuits; retiree medical plan disputes; severance plan cases; executive compensation/"top hat" lawsuits; and ERISA discrimination claims. Many of these cases involved class action claims. He has appeared in federal courts from coast to coast and maintains an active national ERISA litigation practice. He also regularly represents clients in federal district and appellate courts across the country.

Representative Legal Matters

  • Multiemployer Pension Trust Fund
    Complete victory in fiduciary liability insurance coverage dispute involving multiple millions in unpaid indemnity and defense costs.

  • Northfield Ins. Co. v. Civic Center Hotel, 239 F. Supp. 3d 1163 (N.D.Cal. 2017)
    Victory in insurance coverage dispute.

  • Mance v. Quest Diagnostics, 237 F. Supp. 3d 217 (D.N.J. 2017)
    ERISA class action case dismissed. Court rules at summary judgment that Quest Diagnostic's Voluntary Separation Agreement Plan was not regulated by ERISA.

  • National Hospitality Client - In a 2016 case in which the claimant rejected our client's multimillion dollar settlement offer. We defeated the claim in its entirely and then prevailed on a counterclaim.

  • Bluhm v. PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., 921 F. Supp. 2d 1019 (S.D. Cal. 2013)
    The Court granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's claims for severance benefits.

  • Armbruster v. WageWorks, 2013 U.S. District LEXIS 96727 (D. Ar. 2013)
    Victory in lawsuit for stock plan benefits.

  • Solis v. Webb, 931 F. Supp. 2d 936, (N.D. Cal. 2012)
    Court ruled that because defendants followed the investment directions of an independent fiduciary, the DOL must show defendants knowingly permitted the ESOP to overpay for company stock.

  • In re First American ERISA Litigation, 258 F.R.D. 610 (C.D. Cal. 2009)
    First American Corp. defeats motion for certification of a 37,000 member class in a USD200 million fiduciary breach case convincing the court that certification under Rule 23(b)(1)(B) was improper following the Supreme Court's decision in LaRue v. DeWolf, Boberg & Associates, 554 U.S. 248 (2008).

  • In re Dell Inc. ERISA Litigation, 563 F. Supp. 2d 681 (W.D. Tex. 2008)
    Court dismisses with prejudice plaintiffs' USD300 million class action claim ruling that the Dell 401(k) plan fiduciaries had not acted imprudently by retaining Dell stock as a plan investment.

  • Sullivan v. Cap Gemini, 518 F. Supp 2d 983 (N.D. Ohio 2007)
    Summary judgment granted in favor of Cap Gemini. Court ruled that a release of all general claims barred LTD benefit claim as to Cap Gemini.


  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit~United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit~United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit~United States
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois~United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit~United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit~United States
  • U.S. District Court, Colorado~United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit~United States
  • U.S. Supreme Court~United States
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California~United States
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California~United States
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California~United States
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California~United States
  • California~United States


  • Georgetown University Law Center (LL.M. Tax)
  • Santa Clara University (J.D.)
  • Santa Clara University (B.A. Philosophy)


Author, "Cal Fire! The California Supreme Court Singes the 'Vested Rights' Doctrine," Benefits Law Journal, Winter 2019 

Author, "Epic End to ERISA Class Actions?," Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 31, No. 3, Wolters Kluwer, Autumn 2018

Co-author, "A Lesson In Perseverance: How Faith Led Three Church-Affiliated Hospitals To Victory At The Supreme Court," Benefits law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 3, Autumn, 2017

Co-author, "Annual Review of Developments in Business and Corporate Litigation," 2017 ERISA Chapter, ABA Recent Developments in Business and Corporation Litigation, 2017 Edition