office: (858) 444-2300 | fax: (858) 444-2345
Practice Areas: Employee Benefits, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, Pension and Profit Sharing Plans, ERISA, ERISA Litigation, Business Law, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), Estate Planning, Trust Litigation
Paul Woodard is a partner with Butterfield Schechter LLP, where he focuses his practice on a broad range of ERISA-governed litigation matters. Paul has litigated and defended actions involving claims against ERISA plan fiduciaries for breach of fiduciary duty, equitable relief, and the payment of benefits under employer-sponsored benefit plans. In addition to ERISA litigation, Paul has successfully represented clients in complex business disputes involving contract claims, professional negligence claims, and stock option disputes in both federal and state court. Paul also represents clients in tax disputes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Franchise Tax Board (FTB) at the audit and appeal levels and before the California Office of Tax Appeals and United States Tax Court.
Paul has extensive experience navigating the judicial process required in California to seize a judgment creditor's retirement assets, which may be partially or fully exempt from collection. Paul was lead counsel on two published appellate decisions that have had a significant impact on the law as it pertains to seizing retirement assets. See O'BRIEN v. AMBS DIAGNOSTICS, LLC, 246 Cal. App. 4th 942; 201 Cal.Rptr.3d 305 (2016); and O'BRIEN v. AMBS DIAGNOSTICS, LLC, 38 Cal.App. 5th 553; 251 Cal. Rptr. 3d 41 (2019). Paul recently obtained a favorable court ruling on a claim of exemption whereby the court awarded $392,588.66 of the judgment debtor's total $710,253.00 retirement assets.
While an aggressive litigator and winning appellate practitioner, Paul is also versed in all forms of alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration, mediation, settlement conferences, and adjudicatory hearings. Paul believes in working with his clients towards reaching a favorable resolution prior to incurring the expense of prolonged litigation or trial.
On the transactional side, Paul regularly drafts and reviews qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) and performs complex QDRO calculations determining community property interests where several plans are involved and where plans include both community property and separate property contributions. Paul assists clients with drafting a wide range of qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) Plans, ESOPs, Profit Sharing Plans, Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans, and Top-Hat Plans. Paul also serves as counsel for small and mid-sized businesses advising on a variety of issues, including entity formation and structure, business acquisitions and sales agreements, and negotiating and reviewing commercial lease agreement terms.
Paul is a former President of the San Diego Chapter of the Western Pension & Benefits Council and currently serves as a Board Member. Paul is actively engaged in the legal community and is a member of the William B. Enright Chapter American Inns of Court. He is also active with the San Diego County Bar Association's Community Service Committee, spearheading Wills for Heroes events providing free wills to first responders since 2017.
- San Diego State University (B.S., Business Administration Financial Services, 2008)
- California Western School of Law (J.D., 2011)
- State of California, 2012
- S. District Court, Southern District of California, 2012
- S. District Court, Eastern District of California, 2014
- S. District Court, Central District of California, 2015
- S. Tax Court
- S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 2012
- San Diego County Bar Association
- William B. Enright Chapter American Inns of Court – Barrister
- Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association
- Western Pension & Benefits Council San Diego Chapter
- Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce
Awards & Accolades
- Super Lawyers - Rising Star, 2020-2022
- Finalist - 2019 San Diego Business Journal Leaders in Law Award (Rising Star)
Beyond the Office
- President of San Diego Chapter of Western Pension & Benefits Council, 2018-2020
- President-Elect of San Diego Chapter of Western Pension & Benefits Council, 2017-2018
- Board Member of San Diego Chapter of Western Pension & Benefits Council, 2017 – present
- Co-Vice President - Corporate Relations, Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, 2017 - 2019
- At-Large Board Member, San Diego County Bar Association Community Service Committee, 2017 – 2019
- Co-Chair, Wills for Heroes - San Diego Chapter, 2017- present
- San Diego Miramar College Paralegal Advisory Board, 2012-present
Timothy O'Brien and Liberty Diagnostics LLC v. AMBS Diagnostics, LLC et al. Case No. GC048333 (2014)