Sarah HeckGriffin

Of Counsel

Los Angeles +

Sarah Griffin works closely with plan sponsors and plan fiduciaries on the full range of ERISA and tax issues concerning their employee benefit plans and compensation arrangements, including the design, governance, and operation of corporate benefit programs, as well as the fiduciary duties relevant to claims and appeal administration, investing plan assets, maintaining an employer stock fund, and negotiating and contracting with investment advisers and managers, transition managers, and other service providers to the plans.

Sarah advises clients on their qualified retirement plans (including cash balance plans and 401(k) plans); 403(b) tax sheltered annuities; health and welfare plans and funding vehicles (including voluntary employee beneficiary associations [VEBAs], 401(h) accounts, and health reimbursement accounts [HRAs]); fringe benefits; and nonqualified deferred compensation plans (including ineligible deferred compensation plans for tax-exempt organizations and local governments). She has guided clients through significant Department of Labor (DO)L investigations, internal audits, and Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) filings with successful outcomes. In the context of M&A transactions, joint ventures, and financings, Sarah works with clients to achieve their overall transaction strategy, including with respect to compensation packages and transitioning of employee plans. She also has advised California governmental entities regarding the state's vested rights doctrine as it applies to their retiree health plans. Sarah's representative clients include Sempra Energy, University of San Francisco, Los Angeles County, and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Sarah is a former member of the University of Colorado at Boulder Law School Alumni Board and is past president of the board of directors for the Los Angeles County Bar Association Foundation.


  • Sempra Energy sells subsidiary to ArcLight Capital PartnersJones Day advised Sempra Energy in the sale of a Sempra subsidiary to ArcLight Capital Partners for $328 million in cash, subject to adjustments for working capital.
  • Dignity Health and Select Medical combine Concentra and U.S. HealthWorks for $753 millionJones Day advised Dignity Health in its $753 million sale of its U.S. HealthWorks, Inc. subsidiary to Concentra Group Holdings, LLC.
  • City of Detroit's chapter 9 plan of adjustment confirmedJones Day served as lead restructuring counsel to the City of Detroit in connection with its chapter 9 bankruptcy case filed in July 2013 and its ongoing restructuring efforts.
  • Luxfer Group acquires Vexxel CompositesJones Day advised Luxfer Group in its acquisition of Vexxel Composites, LLC, a manufacturer of high-pressure composite cylinders for containment of compressed natural gas.
  • Dignity Health forms joint venture with Optum InsightJones Day advised Dignity Health, the fifth largest hospital provider in the United States, in the formation of a joint venture with Optum Insight, a provider of information and technology solutions in the health care field.
  • Hoag Memorial Hospital forms regional health systemJones Day assisted Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in its affiliation with St. Joseph Health to form an integrated regional health system.
  • Dignity Health acquires U.S. HealthWorksJones Day advised Dignity Health, the fifth largest health system in the nation, in its acquisition of U.S. HealthWorks, the largest independent operator of occupational medicine and urgent care centers in the United States.
  • Dignity Health acquires Health Diagnostics of CaliforniaJones Day represented Dignity Health in connection with its acquisition of Health Diagnostics of California, a chain of diagnostic imaging centers located in Northern and Southern California.
  • City of Hope forms City of Hope Medical FoundationJones Day advised the City of Hope in connection with the development and formation of City of Hope Medical Foundation (COHMF) and the purchase by COHMF of California Cancer Specialists Medical Group (CCSMG) and Oncology Specialists of COH (OSCOH).
  • Celgene acquires Abraxis BioScience for $2.9 billionJones Day advised Celgene Corporation in its $2.9 billion merger with Abraxis BioScience Inc.
  • BioMarin acquires LEAD TherapeuticsJones Day advised BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc. in connection with the acquisition of LEAD Therapeutics, Inc., a small private drug discovery and early stage development company with key compound LT-673, an orally available poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor for the treatment of patients with rare, genetically defined cancers.
  • Celgene buys Gloucester Pharmaceuticals for $640 million to bolster its anticancer drug pipelineJones Day advised Celgene Corporation in its acquisition of Gloucester Pharmaceuticals.
  • Sycamore Hill Capital completes MBO of The Ascent Services GroupJones Day advised Sycamore Hill Capital Group in the management buyout of The Ascent Services Group, a national leader in staffing and workforce management services.
  • ExcelStor Great Wall Technology and Shenzhen ExcelStor propose sale to Iomega Corp.Jones Day advised ExcelStor Great Wall Technology Limited and Shenzhen ExcelStor Technology Limited in their proposed sale to Iomega Corporation.
  • Neoware acquired by Hewlett-PackardJones Day advised Neoware, Inc. in its $332 million acquisition by Hewlett-Packard Company.
  • Ellison Technologies acquired by Mitsui and Mori SeikiJones Day advised Ellison Technologies, Inc., a U.S. producer of machine tools, in the acquisition of a controlling interest by Mitsui & Co. and Mori Seiki Co., Ltd.
  • Contra Costa County seeks advice on tax consequences of plan designJones Day advised Contra Costa County on tax consequences of plan design.
  • Speaking Engagements

    • February 2015
      The Future of Municipal Pensions -- ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law, Employee Benefits Committee 2015 Midwinter Meeting
    • October 4, 2012
      Jones Day Hosts California Client Development Event for Women
    • May 28, 2009
      An Overview of Code Section 409A
    • April 2008
      Can you afford your promises? Five Things Public Employers can do to Protect Their Right to Make Changes to Retiree Benefit Programs
    • January 24, 2008
      409A Documentary Compliance -- Time is Running Out!, Jones Day University
    • May 15, 2007
      10 Things Plaintiffs' Lawyers Won't Tell You About 401(K) Plan "Excess" Service Fee Lawsuits
    • May 2, 2007
      The Changing Role of Institutional Trustee, The Western Pension and Benefits Conference - Los Angeles Chapter
    • May 2007
      The Western Pension and Benefits Conference - Los Angeles Chapter
    • January 25, 2007
      Funding Retiree Health Obligations for Public Employers and Plans: Available Tax-Preferred Vehicles, JD MCLE University
    • January 25, 2007
      Pension Protection Act Provisions Relevant to Public Employers, JD MCLE University
    • September 20, 2005
      Health Care Executive Compensation Under Fire:  How to Survive the Onslaught