Robert A. Michalak

Robert A. Michalak


(312) 565-8361

Robert Michalak is singularly responsible for creating and growing our Employment and Benefits practice area after joining our firm more than 25 years ago. Precise, analytical and attentive to detail, he is well suited to the multidisciplinary demands involved in counseling employers about employee benefits and employment law.

Bob helps employers develop, implement, administer and monitor retirement and employee benefit programs, enabling them to attract and retain qualified personnel at all levels within an organization. Bob’s expert representation includes supervising legal and professional staff to ensure effective programs as well as counseling estate planning clients on employee benefits issues.

  • Areas of Practice -
  • Benefits Administration:

    • Advice on administering employee benefit programs cost effectively and evenly
    • Counsel for corporate staff on adopting in-house procedures for dealing with employee benefit plan administrative issues
    • Preparation of employee benefit planning forms for corporate staff members
    • Maintenance of client's employee benefit programs
    • Overseeing of all employee benefit matters for a multi-national medical products manufacturing company with numerous foreign locations
    • Conducting of due diligence regarding employee benefit aspects of business mergers and acquisitions

    Qualified Retirement Plan Administration:

    • Drafting of individually designed qualified retirement plans
    • Adapting of volume submitter and prototype qualified retirement plan documents to each client's specific plan criteria
    • Updates on qualified plan documents, including complete restatements of plan documents to comply with legislative changes
    • Obtaining of determination letters from the Internal Revenue Service to ensure clients comply with federal requirements for retirement plan documents
    • Preparation of required summary plan descriptions for all varieties of qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and employee welfare benefit and fringe benefit plans

    Dispute Resolution:

    • Counsel for clients and litigation staff regarding litigation on all varieties of employee benefit disputes
    • Negotiation with plan participants and their legal counsel to resolve disputes
    • Negotiation with the IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to resolve issues
    • Development and preparation of claims that will receive favorable determinations regarding clients’ qualified status.
  • Achievements+
  • Bob's many accomplishments include intervention with the IRS and other federal agencies on behalf of clients. His achievements also include:

    • Successfully negotiated to correct non-compliant activities of qualified plans through the Voluntary Compliance Resolution Program sponsored by the IRS on behalf of clients who did not comply with legal directives for technical or substantive amendment requirements.
    • Obtained numerous favorable determination letters from the IRS on behalf of clients regarding the qualified status of their retirement plans.
    • Successfully negotiated with DOL on its audit inquiry into the special valuation of a qualified retirement plan's investment.
    • Successfully negotiated with DOL to settle a prohibited transaction undertaken by the trustee/owner of the sponsor.
    • Successfully negotiated with PBGC to freeze an under-funded, union-negotiated defined benefit plan.
    • Successfully deflected the efforts of a former spouse of a plan participant to invest the former spouse's alternative payee's share of the participant's account in the stock of the employer-plan sponsor
    • Counseled litigation staff on strategies for minimizing exposure for retirement and welfare benefit programs upon closure of a union plant.
    • Established procedures for responding to domestic relations litigation claims against retirement plan accounts of employees of foreign subsidiaries.
    • Successfully syndicated numerous limited partnerships for restaurants, real estate developments, residential and commercial real estate operations and several companies engaged in developmental drilling for oil and gas and other commercial operations.
    • Conducted estate and succession planning for owners of privately held businesses.
    • Successfully represented numerous individuals and businesses before the United States Tax Court and the Appellate Section of the IRS in a wide variety of tax disputes.
  • Thought Leadership+
  • Publications

    Editor of and contributing author to Illinois State Bar Association Federal Tax Section Newsletter,Employee Benefits Section Newsletter and llinois CPA Society Federal Tax Section Newsletter.


    “Employee Retirement & Welfare Plan Update,” Illinois State Bar Association, 2014

    "Health Care Reform 2014-2018," Illinois State Bar Association, 2010.

    "Retirement Benefits: Making the Right Choices" and On The Job Health Benefits: Know Your Rights" Chicago Access Network (CAN-TV) presentation for the Illinois State Bar Association, 2009.

    "Recent Legal Developments in HR Management, Immigration and Benefits," Society of Human Resource Professionals, 2004.

    Coordinator and moderator of ISBA LAW ED Series Program entitled "Planning Strategies for Receiving Distributions from Qualified Plans and IRAs and for Avoiding Potential Land Mines," 2004.

  • Education +

    J.D., Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, Chicago, Illinois, 1970.

    B.B.A., University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1967.

    Eponym, Robert A. Michalak Visionary Award, established in 2000 by the board of directors of the Center for Disability and Elder Law and periodically presented to an outstanding member of the community; Alderman Edward M. Burke is the most recent recipient.

    Center for Disability and Elder Law Founders Award, 2010.

    Registered Title Insurance Agent, 1990.

    Real Estate Brokerage License, 1978.

    Certified Public Accountant, Illinois, 1972.

    Illinois Army National Guard, 1970 to 1976; Company Training NCO, 1971 to 1976.

  • Bar & Court Admissions +

    Illinois, 1970

    Supreme Court of Illinois, 1970

    United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, General Bar, 1970

    United States Tax Court, 1973

    United States Supreme Court, 1978

  • Experience +

    Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, P.C.
    Chicago, Illinois

    1988 to Present

    Robert A. Michalak Associates
    Chicago, Illinois

    1978 to 1988

    Heaston & Michalak, Ltd.*
    Chicago, Illinois

    1975 to 1978

    1974 to 1975


    *And predecessors.

    Arthur Andersen
    Chicago, Illinois

    Tax Senior
    1971 to 1973

    Tax Assistant
    1970 to 1971

  • Peer Recognition +

    Illinois Super Lawyers, Law & Politics, 2005 and 2006.

    Leading Lawyers Network, Law Bulletin Publishing Company, since 2005.

    Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent "peer review rated for ethical standards and legal ability," since 1988.

  • Professional Memberships +

    American Bar Association (member of Business Law, Labor and Employment Law, Trust and Estate Law and Taxation sections)

    Illinois State Bar Association (Employee Benefits Section Council, chair, 2006 to 2007; member of Federal Taxes and Employee Benefits sections; mentor to graduate law school students

    Chicago Bar Association (committees on Corporation Law--chair, 1987 to 1988--Federal Tax and Employee Benefits)

    Illinois CPA Society (Federal Tax Committee, chair, 1983 to 1984)

    American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accounts

    IRS Chicago District Commissioner's and Midwest Regional Commissioner's Practitioner Liaison Committee

  • Civic Affiliations +

    Center for Disability and Elder Law; founding board member, past president and past chairman of the board, 1982 to present; annual fundraising benefit, current chair.

    The Plaza Club, Board of Governors, chair, 1999 to 2000.

    St. Joan of Arc Men's Club, 1975 to present.

    Notre Dame Club of Chicago, 1967 to present.