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Joelle Tavan

I strive to provide outstanding support to my clients through collaboration with their team and other benefits professionals. Employee benefits law is complex and constantly evolving and, as benefits counsel, I am committed to helping my clients properly administer their benefits programs and delivering sound, practical, and cost-effective solutions. Quotation mark
Joelle Tavan
Joelle Tavan

About Joelle

Joelle Tavan is a senior counsel in the firm’s employee benefits practice group. She advises public and private employers as well as multiemployer trusts on a broad range of employee benefits matters including qualification requirements under the Internal Revenue Code, ERISA compliance, correcting plan defects, DOL and IRS audits, fiduciary duties, service provider contracts, withdrawal liability issues, and qualified domestic relations orders. Joelle also assists public employers with PERS-related matters.

Representative Experience

  • Qualified Plan Design & Compliance Plus
    • Regularly advise clients on plan design, regulatory, operational, and compliance issues relating to their employee benefit plans. Help plan sponsors comply with ERISA, including advising about fiduciary duties, assisting plan administrators with reporting and disclosure requirements, and advising about prohibited transaction rules.

    • Knowledgeable about all aspects of employer withdrawal liability. Has assisted plans and employers with estimates of withdrawal liability, including facilitating negotiations and resolving issues between clients and nonclient plans and employers. Has advised clients about events that may trigger partial withdrawals, mass withdrawals, and complete withdrawals for employers, including those in the building and construction industry.

    • Assist clients with correcting retirement plan defects under the IRS's Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System. Also help clients correct fiduciary breaches under the DOL's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program. Has also represented clients in DOL and IRS audits of their employee benefit plans.

    • Regularly advise public employers on PERS-related matters, including compliance with PERS's various Tier systems and OPSRP.

    • Advise plan administrators and sponsors on the qualification of domestic relations orders (DROs). Has counseled administrators and sponsors on post-death DROs. Has also counseled plan administrators on how to respond to garnishments of and tax liens on participants' benefits.

    • Obtained a DOL prohibited transaction exemption. Prepared the prohibited transaction exemption application and communicated with the trustees and DOL agent about the application and filing procedures.

    • Preparing and reviewing requests for proposals to employee benefit plan service providers and investment managers. Also routinely reviews, and advises plan sponsors on, service providers' agreements.

    • Draft all types of notices to participants, including 204(h) notices, QDIA notices, Medicare Part D notices, and withdrawal liability notices.



  • J.D., Lewis & Clark Law School (formerly Northwestern School of Law), 2008
    • Associate Editor, Animal Law Review
    • Business Law Roundtable Scholar
    • Dean’s Scholarship for Excellence
    • Paul H. Casey Scholarship for Business Law
    • Student Representative for SBA Honor Board
  • B.A., Portland State University, magna cum laude, political science and administration of justice, 2005

Bar Admissions

  • Oregon, 2008


  • French


Professional Plus
  • Western Pension & Benefits Conference, Portland Chapter, member
  • Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association, member
  • Asian American Business Alliance, member
  • Oregon Women Lawyers, member
Civic Plus
  • Legal Aid Services of Oregon, past volunteer
  • Multnomah Defenders Inc., past volunteer
  • ASPIRE program, past volunteer

Insights from Joelle

  • “New Fee Disclosure Requirements for Plans With Participant-Directed Investments,” Miller Nash, Employee Benefits Update (Apr. 2012)
  • “New Fee Disclosure Requirements Under ERISA Section 408(b)(2),” Employee Benefits Update (Mar. 2012)
  • “DOL Issues Model Employer CHIP Notice,” Miller Nash, Employee Benefits Update (Mar. 2010)
  • “The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009: New Requirements for Group Health Plans,” Miller Nash, Employee Benefits Update (Mar. 2009)

Outside the Office

Born and raised in Paris, France, Joelle speaks fluent French. She is an avid equestrian in the hunter/jumper discipline and enjoys running and spending time with her family.