Phone (Office): 512-476-7502  |  Email:

Senior Benefits Attorney

Teacher Retirement System of Texas
Job Description
SALARY: $7,699.16 - $13,021.33 Monthly
$92,389.92 - $156,255.96 Annually
OPENING DATE: 12/08/16
CLOSING DATE: 01/31/17 05:00 PM
The Senior Benefits Attorney performs advanced (senior-level) legal work.  Work involves providing counsel and related services primarily related to pension and employee benefits, providing general legal counsel and representation to agency board of trustees and executive management; and providing research and other legal support.  Works under limited supervision with considerable latitude for initiative and independent judgment.  May coordinate the work of others.  This position reports to General Counsel.

State classification: 3523/General Counsel IV/B29/Exempt
Benefits Counsel
  • Reviews and analyzes documents, fact situations, and relevant laws and rules, and provides legal services and advice to General Counsel, the Legal Benefits Administration team manager, agency management including the Board of Trustees, and other agency staff; and provides information to members, retirees, beneficiaries, and the general public as applicable regarding pension benefits.
  • Provides legal advice and assistance related to trust participant matters, pension benefit matters, and collection of amounts due to the retirement system; and coordinates advice with other attorneys to ensure compliance with plan qualification requirements, tax law requirements, and other federal and state laws affecting qualified governmental plans.
  • Responds to open records requests, discovery requests and subpoenas, and other requests for member information, including determining whether confidential information may be disclosed and corresponding with the requestors.
  • Determines if an order is a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) and assists other legal staff in administering QDROs.
  • Reviews child support orders and administrative writs, various court orders, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax levies, criminal restitution writs, bankruptcy notices, federal student loan garnishment orders, subpoenas, third party discovery, powers of attorney, guardianship, trust, and other legal documents; and provides advice and legal assistance to other legal staff and departments regarding the administration of pension benefits.
  • Develops training materials and provides training to management and staff regarding pension benefits.
  • Reviews pension plan publications, forms, and other correspondence for legal sufficiency, and provides legal advice on web-based access to personal information and pension plan transactions.
  • Drafts rules and assists with rulemaking, including preparation of rule preambles and coordination with staff in affected departments; and coordinates periodic rule reviews as required by statute.
  • Assists with review of proposed federal and state legislation affecting the pension plan and provides legal advice concerning proposed legislation as requested.
General Legal Counsel and Representation
  • Represents the agency at the State Office of Administrative Hearings in administrative appeals, including preparing pleadings, briefs, notices, motions, and orders; gathering evidence and conducting discovery; and conducting hearings.
  • Coordinates with the Office of the Attorney General on agency litigation; researches and analyzes legal issues and prepares legal memoranda; gathers and reviews evidence and prepares discovery responses and affidavits; and assists in defense or prosecution of litigation.
  • Attends meetings of the Board of Trustees, Board committees, and Medical Board or advisory committees as directed; assists with preparing meeting materials, such as drafting proposed resolutions, meeting minutes, and related materials; and delivers presentations as assigned.
  • Represents the agency as assigned in meetings and negotiations with other attorneys and external participants, including executive and legislative branches of Texas state government.
  • May manage and oversee outside counsel on assigned matters, including managing workflow and evaluating work product.
  • Provides legal advice and assistance on other matters as assigned, such as TRS authority, contracting and procurement, employment, records retention, and other records management issues.
Research and Support
  • Conducts or directs legal research with respect to assigned or referred matters.
  • Prepares letters, memoranda, bills, or analysis for legislative consideration, policies, guidelines, procedures, contracts, and other materials as assigned.
  • Tracks deadlines and takes appropriate action on assigned matters.
  • Coordinates the related work of legal assistants and support staff, and supervises or coordinates the related work of attorneys and other departmental staff when designated as lead attorney with regard to assigned matters.
  • Leads or participates in special projects and serves in special roles, as assigned.
  • Performs related work as assigned.
  • Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school.
  • Seven (7) years of full-time experience as a practicing attorney in at least one of the following areas: employee benefits related to qualified plans, tax law related to qualified plans, school law, litigation, administrative law (Administrative Procedures contested cases, open government, records management, rulemaking, etc.), or employment law.
Registration, Certification, or Licensure:
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of Texas and a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas; or hold a valid, active law license issued by another state and be eligible for Texas licensure under Board of Law Examiners Rule XIII: Attorneys From Other Jurisdictions (candidate must obtain Texas license within eight months of hire date).
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience providing counsel, drafting and interpreting laws, rules, and regulations, and preparing written communications to plan participants and participating employers regarding the administration of a defined-benefit governmental plan and various systems and programs of retirement and related death and disability benefits for public school employees, including higher education employees.
  • Experience interpreting and providing counsel regarding legal requirements for qualification as a tax-exempt trust and governmental plan under 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Experience in analyzing proposed federal and state legislation relating to qualified retirement plans, with an emphasis on governmental plans.
  • Experience handling litigation and/or administrative hearings.
  • Experience interpreting and providing counsel regarding fiduciary duties of trustees.
  • Experience effectively communicating with a high-level audience, such as a governing Board or executive management.
  • Experience mentoring attorneys and having responsibility for coordinating work assignments and reviewing work product of a group of attorneys and other legal staff.

Veterans / Military Crosswalk:
TRS is committed to maintaining a veteran-friendly workplace and attracting, developing and retaining military service members as employees. To assist in determining whether your military experience may relate to the minimum qualifications for this position, Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) codes from each branch of the armed forces have been assigned to each state classification title where applicable.
Depending upon actual duties, the following fields may pertain to the minimum qualifications of this position. Candidates who meet the minimum qualifications for this position are highly encouraged to apply.
  • Army Military Occupational Codes – Enlisted:  No military equivalent.  Officer:  27A, 27B.
  • Navy Ratings and Designators – Enlisted:  No military equivalent.  Officer:  250X.
  • Coast Guard Ratings – Enlisted:   No military equivalent.  Officer:  LGL10, 04.
  • Marine Corps Occupational Codes – Enlisted:   No military equivalent.  Officer:  4402.
  • Air Force Specialty Codes – Enlisted:   No military equivalent.  Officer:  51JX.
Please contact the TRS Human Resources Department or the TRS Veterans Liaison with questions or for additional information.
Additional Military Crosswalk information can be found at:
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Knowledge of:
  • Legal issues and concepts in at least one area of law relevant to job functions.
  • Fiduciary responsibilities or ethics issues.
Skill in:
  • Performing legal research and analysis of relevant information and in rendering advice based on sound legal judgment.
  • Effective written and verbal communications in developing and advocating legal positions, giving advice, and preparing and presenting complex legal documents or reports.
  • Handling litigation and/or administrative hearings, motion practice, conducting discovery, and drafting pleadings, briefs, motions, and affidavits.
  • Analyzing problems and devising effective solutions.
  • Negotiating, mediating, and resolving conflicts.
  • Using a computer in a Windows environment with Microsoft Office word processing, spreadsheet, and other business software, including using software for electronic research and producing briefs, correspondence, reports, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Task management and organization, including prioritizing work assignments to manage a high-volume workload in a fast-paced and changing environment, meeting deadlines, and completing detailed work with a high degree of accuracy.
Ability to:
  • Work extended and/or irregular hours and travel as needed due to internal and external obligations.
  • Establish and maintain harmonious working relationships with co-workers, other agency staff, members, and other external contacts.
  • Work effectively in a professional team environment.
Physical Requirements and/or Working Conditions

Work is performed in a standard office environment and requires:
  • normal cognitive abilities including the ability to learn, recall, and apply certain practices and policies;
  • marginal or corrected visual and auditory requirements;
  • constant use of personal computers, copiers, printers, and telephones;
  • the ability to move about the office to access file cabinets and office machinery;
  • frequent sitting and/or remaining in a stationary position; and
  • the ability to work under deadlines, as a team member, and in direct contact with others.
Workforce Expectations

Must be able to:
  • regularly, reliably, and punctually attend work;
  • work extended hours as necessary;
  • travel occasionally for work assignments and trainings;
  • show flexibility and adaptability toward changes in assignments and work schedules;
  • adhere to the agency's internal management policies and procedures; and
  • exhibit work behaviors consistent with agency core values.
Submit an online application at by 5:00 p.m. on the closing date. Applications will be screened for minimum qualifications. Skill demonstrations or work simulations may be part of the selection process. Top candidates will be contacted for further consideration. Finalists who document college/university or special coursework to meet the minimum qualifications will be required to submit copies of transcripts or diplomas at the time of interview. Only internal applicants and applicants who are interviewed will receive notification of application results. Please contact Human Resources if you require accommodation during the application process.

Please Note:
  • The application, resume, and any other accompanying documentation may be subject to disclosure by TRS upon receipt of a request under the Texas Public Information Act.
  • Due to the nature of TRS business a criminal background investigation will be conducted prior to an offer of employment.
  • The State of Texas requires all male candidates ages 18 to 25 to show proof of selective service registration (or exemption) upon hire.
  • The U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires new employees to present proof of identity and eligibility to work in the United States.
  • For detailed information about the benefits of working at TRS, view the employee benefits page.

TRS is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity and workforce diversity.

Veterans, Reservists or Guardsmen: the Teacher Retirement System of Texas recognizes the contributions and values of our veterans. Those Veterans, Reservists or Guardsmen meeting the minimum qualifications and experience are highly encouraged to apply.

Position #17-000019

1000 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78701
Contact Information