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James S. Ray


James S. Ray is an employee benefits and labor-management law practitioner with more than 40 years of experience. His practice includes representation of multiemployer pension funds, health and welfare funds, training funds, other benefit programs, benefit fund trustees, labor organizations, and labor-management cooperation organizations. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia, the bar of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the bars of many Federal District Courts and Courts of Appeal, and the bar of the United States Supreme Court, with significant litigation experience in courts throughout the United States.

Mr. Ray served two terms on the Advisory Council for Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (ERISA Advisory Council) of the Department of Labor, and held the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman (1989-1992, by appointment of Secretary Elizabeth Dole, and 2000-2002 by appointment of Secretary Alexis Herman as a member and by appointment of Secretary Elaine Chao as the Chairman). 

He is a Charter Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a peer-selected honorary society of experienced labor and employment law practitioners.  He is also a Charter Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, a peer-selected honorary society of employee benefits professionals.  He is one of the few individuals who is a founding Fellow of both Colleges.

He served as a member of the governing Council of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the American Bar Association (1994-2000), as Chairman of the ABA's Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, as Co-Chairman of the Employee Benefits Committee and of the Federal Legislative Developments Committee of the ABA's Labor & Employment Law Section.

For decades he has held Martindale-Hubbell's highest rating for legal ability and ethical standards (Preeminent AV) for 30 years and has been listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and in the Best Lawyers in America directories for decades, based on peer evaluations.

He is the 2006 recipient of the John L. Lewis Award for distinguished service to the Multiemployer benefit plan community, awarded by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP).  He has been a member of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee since its inception.

He has been a frequent speaker on employee benefits and labor law issues for a wide variety of professional, governmental, union, and business groups, including testifying at various committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and speaking at the inaugural National Summit on Retirement Savings in 1998.

He earned his undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Science) at Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations (1974), and his law degree (Juris Doctor, with honors) at the the George Washington University Law School (1977).

Practice Areas


Employee Benefits

Labor & Employment

Labor-Management Relations

Multiemployer (Taft-Hartley) Benefit Funds

Benefit Trust Fund Counsel

Benefit Plan Design

Government Agency Regulation & Enforcement

Fiduciary & Benefits Litigation

Contribution Collection

Withdrawal Liability 

Legislation & Policy


National Law Center, George Washington University

J.D., 1977 (with Honors)

School of Industrial &

Labor Relations,

Cornell University

B.S., 1974

Admitted to Practice

Commonwealth of Virginia

District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits

U.S. Supreme Court


Charter Fellow

American College of Employee Benefits Counsel (2000)

Charter Fellow

College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (1996)

John L. Lewis Award 

(NCCMP, 2006)

Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (15+ years)

Best Lawyers in America (30+ years)

Martindale-Hubbell Preeminent AV rating (30 years)

Chairman, ERISA Advisory Counsel, U.S. Department of Labor (2002)

Member, ERISA Advisory Counsel, U.S. Department of Labor (1989-92, 2000-02)

Chairman, ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (1983)

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