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Miller ’21 Wins Writing Award

For her paper on protecting retirees' pension plans, 3L is honored by the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.


Rebecca Miller ’21 has been awarded the Alvin D. Lurie Memorial Award by the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel (ACEBC) as part of the college’s writing competition. She won for her paper “God’s (Pension) Plan: ERISA Church Plan Litigation in the Aftermath of Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton.” She was honored October 8 at the college’s 21st Annual Meeting and Induction Ceremony, held virtually.

Miller’s paper discusses the “church plan” exemption from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which allows church organizations that administer pension plans to opt out of ERISA requirements such as reporting, disclosure, minimum finding, and plan termination insurance requirements. She argues that states can and should introduce legislation to bring church plans under narrow requirements of ERISA to protect retirees who are blindsided when their pension plans are terminated due to underfunding.

On receiving her award, Miller said: “I am really grateful for this recognition by the ACEBC. During Covid-19, I think it has become clear that employee benefits law is an important area of study, which impacts many facets of our day-to-day lives and shapes our society. Therefore, it means a lot for a national organization to support and recognize law student engagement with this subject.

Miller also expressed appreciation for the support she received at BC Law while writing the paper, particularly from Professor Natalya Shnitser. “[She] helped me with research and brainstorming for this paper when I had very little knowledge of the subject area, and encouraged me to apply to this writing competition,” Miller said. “She is really a mentor and champion for BC Law students interested in employee benefits law.”

Miller’s paper was originally published as a student Note in Boston College Law Review last spring, and an edited version of it will be published by BCLR in November.

The ACEBC is a non-profit that fosters lawyers pursuing employment benefits law and advancing public understanding of employee benefits through professional discussions and symposiums. The organization also provides fellowships, mentorship programs, educational programs, and writing competitions to recognize the high achievements of practicing lawyers as well as students pursuing careers in benefits law.