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  • J.D., Yale Law School, 1999, Coker Fellow; Yale Journal of International Law
  • Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, 1996, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales
  • A.B., Harvard College, 1995, magna cum laude

Bar and Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • Supreme Court of New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Other Professional Affiliations

Member, Section of Taxation, American Bar Association (ABA)

Member, Taxation Section, D.C. Bar

Member, 2017 CCNL Certification, Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA)

Member, 2013 Appreciation Award, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area (APABA-DC)

Member, 2008 and 2012 Convention Planning Committees, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)

Government Experience

U.S. Department of State, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 1994

Joanne C. Youn

Member, Washington, D.C.
(202) 862-7855 | v-card | PDF

Joanne Youn has nearly two decades of national practice in all areas of employee benefits law, including the Internal Revenue Code, ERISA, HIPAA, COBRA, and the Affordable Care Act.  Her understanding of the relevant regulatory and compliance issues currently facing employers provides her clients with customized, compliant solutions to their plan design and administration needs.  Clients include domestic companies, multinational corporations with U.S. subsidiaries and/or U.S. executives, governmental entities, and a range of tax-exempt employers, including faith-based organizations, public charities, and private foundations.  In particular, Ms. Youn has overseen a number of projects for clients in the international shipping industry.

Additionally, she collaborates with other professional service providers in the employee benefits area, such as plan auditors and HR consultants, along with attorneys in complementary fields, such as labor and employment and corporate governance, to provide her clients with a full range of services.

Ms. Youn is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.


Retirement Plans

She has significant experience with qualified and nonqualified deferred compensation plans.  Representative engagements include:

  • Advising on plan design choices and operational issues;
  • Drafting and amending plan documents, including for legislative and regulatory changes;
  • Drafting formal and informal employee communications and forms;
  • Advising on strategies for correcting plan defects;
  • Counseling on fiduciary obligations;
  • Negotiating treatment of employee benefits in corporate mergers and acquisitions; and
  • Advising on the effect of workforce restructurings, including early-retirement windows, phased retirement, and reductions in force.

Health and Welfare Plans

Ms. Youn regularly advises clients with regard to the management of fully-insured and self-insured health and welfare plans, including compliance and documentation.  Representative engagements include:

  • Advising on potential excise taxes;
  • Drafting policies, procedures, and other administrative documents; and
  • Providing guidance on proper internal controls and reporting requirements.

Client Advocacy

She frequently represents her clients' interests in complex employee benefits matters before the IRS, DOL, and PBGC.  Notable representations include: 

  • Submitting comments and requesting rulings on issues of first impression;
  • Negotiating closing agreements in audits involving compliance issues for large and small qualified plans; and
  • Obtaining favorable resolution of technical issues through corrective programs and advance consultation with governmental agencies.

Professional Activities

Ms. Youn demonstrates thought leadership in numerous high-profile issues affecting her clients. As part of that effort, she advises on CLE programming in the area of employee benefits law for the Employee Benefits Advisory Panel of the American Law Institute. She serves as Caplin & Drysdale's foreign counsel liaison for business development activities in China and is a member of the Christian Leadership Alliance, a training and development organization for Christian ministries, educational institutions, and businesses. 

She is also active in the tax community and the minority bar. 

Awards & Rankings

  • The Legal 500, Recommended, 2011-Present
  • The Washington Post, Top Attorneys in D.C., 2013-Present
  • Global Law Experts, Pension Law Attorney of the Year in Washington, D.C., 2014-2015
  • Corporate International Magazine Global Award, Pension Law Attorney of the Year in Washington, D.C., 2014-2015
  • Finance Monthly, Labor and Employment Law Firm of the Year - USA, 2015
  • Super Lawyers, Rising Star, Washington, D.C., 2013-2014

Recent News

Click here for a full list of media coverage.

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, Plan Operational Errors and Changes in the Correction Programs, PBMares Lunch & Learn Series, June 27, 2016
  • Speaker, Religious Freedom and the Contraceptive Mandate Under the Affordable Care Act, Resource Center for Religious Institutes (RCRI), November 15, 2013
  • Speaker, Employee Benefits and the Defense of Marriage Act, Association of Legal Administrators Capital Chapter, Human Resources Section Meeting, September 11, 2013

Click here for a full list of speaking engagements.

Recent Publications

Click here for a full list of publications.

The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms