W. Mark


Mark Smith helps financial service providers and Fortune 50 companies successfully design and administer retirement, employee benefit, insurance and executive compensation arrangements. He provides a pragmatic perspective on the tax, Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and other legal considerations applicable to these arrangements.

Banks, broker-dealers, insurance companies, investment advisers and managers, mutual funds, retirement platforms, other product and service providers, and plan sponsors seek Mark’s counsel on a broad range of consulting, transactional and regulatory matters. Clients say he has “extensive experience" and provides solutions that are "concise, easy-to-understand" and "invaluable; he is very adept at assisting clients with navigating the regulatory waters."
Mark has also managed more than 50 tax and ERISA cases in federal court, including Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Darden (Supreme Court 1992) and, for the amici, in Albertson’s, Inc. v. Commissioner (9th Cir. 1993, 1994). Mark also advises on the taxation of corporate and nonqualified insurance products, including corporate- and bank-owned life insurance (COLI/BOLI) policies.
From 1999 to 2007, Mark served as partner-in-charge of Sutherland's Washington, DC, office and firmwide Executive Partner.

Selected Experience

Awards and Rankings

Named to The Best Lawyers in America in the area of employee benefits (ERISA) law (2001-2016)

Fellow, American College of Employee Benefits Counsel

Recognized in Legal 500 U.S.A. (2012-2015)

Professional Activities

Co-Chair, IRI Retirement Summit (2012-present)
Past Presidents Council (2011-present), Former President (2009-2011) and Director (2008-2011), District of Columbia Bar Foundation
Former Director, D.C. Access to Justice Foundation (2009-2012)
Former Chair, Employee Benefits Committee, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, American Bar Association (1991-1992)
Former Delegate, Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, American Bar Association
Former Member, Advisory Board, Georgetown Corporate Counsel Institute

  • J.D., magna cum laude, Cornell University School of Law, Editor-in-Chief, Cornell Law Review, Order of the Coif
  • B.A., University of Kansas, Phi Beta Kappa
Bar Admissions
  • District of Columbia

Honorable Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Our Story

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is an international law firm helping the Fortune 100, industry leaders, sector innovators and business entrepreneurs solve their biggest challenges and reach their business goals. Dedicated to unfaltering excellence in client service, we are known for our business savvy and industry intelligence, providing creative and custom solutions for each of our clients. Industry and business experience makes the difference for our clients.

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