Christine P. Roberts



University of California at Los Angeles, J.D., 1988
Wellesley College, B.A., Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1985



American Bar Association, Tax Section
State Bar of California
Santa Barbara County Bar Association
Society for Human Resources Management

Christine edits the chapter on IRS and DOL voluntary correction programs in The Simple, SEP, and SARSEP Answer Book published by Wolters Kluwer (22nd Ed.). She also edits the chapter on Qualified Domestic Relations Orders in the 457 Answer Book, published by Wolters Kluwer (7th Ed.).

Christine Roberts practices in the complex and ever-changing field of employment benefits law (ERISA). For more than twenty years, Christine has helped employers and benefit brokers steer a clear path to ERISA compliance, de-mystifying the jargon, and providing practical advice to clients in language that they can understand and act on with assurance.

Christine assists plan sponsors in all aspects of qualified retirement plan design, operation, and termination in compliance with ERISA and the Code, including participation in IRS and Department of Labor voluntary correction programs. An additional focus of her practice is serving as outside ERISA counsel to benefit brokers and advisors, helping them to navigate a broad range of ERISA and Affordable Care Act compliance issues. Christine also works extensively with for-profit and tax-exempt employers on executive deferred compensation arrangements. Christine has helped many employers, both profit and not-for-profit, in lessening or avoiding interest and penalties when they are found out of compliance. Since 2010, Christine has maintained a legal blog,, and posts regularly on developments in ERISA regulatory and case law.

In her time away from the office, Christine is an avid reader, Masters swimmer, and travels to New Orleans at least once a year with her husband to explore new restaurants and music venues.

Representative Experience

  • Identified and resolved benefit plan noncompliance issues in a multi-million dollar asset/stock sale involving professional practices.
  • Settled multiemployer plan withdrawal liability for a family owned business in a manner that protected family trust assets from invasion.
  • Drafted change in control agreements for health care executives so as to comply with the “Enron rules” governing deferred compensation under IRC § 409A.
  • Advised agricultural business owner on controlled group rules that would have made a proposed benefit plan unaffordable to maintain.
  • Successfully resolved multiple concurrent IRS audits of qualified and nonqualified benefit plans for an educational client.
  • Identified and resolved numerous, multi-year operational errors in several hospitality industry 401(k) plans.
  • Developed and hosted 20 monthly webinars on Affordable Care Act compliance for local benefit broker staff, clients, and client prospects.
  • Guided a medical app developer through HIPAA compliance for their phone-based application.
  • Successfully represented family law litigants in establishing that former spouses had created liability through mismanagement of retirement plans sponsored by family businesses.
  • Advised multi-million dollar hedge on compliance with prohibited transaction rules triggered by IRA investors, and with requirements of QPAM exemption.
  • Assisted large estate with limiting accelerated taxation resulting from failed beneficiary designations.
  • Coordinated and completed multiple post-closing benefit compliance tasks resulting from a multi-million dollar asset sale in the manufacturing industry.
  • Negotiated Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation approval of assumption of pension liabilities as part of hospital merger.

Community Involvement

Christine has been active in a number of nonprofit groups in the community since moving to Santa Barbara in 1994, including Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County, and Friends of Los Banos del Mar. Most recently, Christine served successive terms on the Library Board for the City of Santa Barbara between 2008 and 2016.