Alison V. Douglass

Alison V. Douglass

Alison V. Douglass

Alison Douglass, a partner in Goodwin’s Financial Industry and ERISA Litigation practices, focuses her practice on a wide array of complex commercial litigation, primarily in the areas of ERISA, mutual fund and securities litigation. She has been named a “Rising Star” by Law & Politics and Boston magazine and has been recognized by The Legal 500. She has also been ranked by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as a nationwide “Recognised Practitioner” in ERISA Litigation.

Ms. Douglass represents clients in all phases of litigation, including pre-litigation counseling and trial and appellate matters in state and federal courts across the county and in regulatory investigations and governmental proceedings, including before the U.S. Department of Labor and the SEC. She also represents corporate and individual clients in complex commercial litigation matters, including breach of fiduciary duty claims, M&A disputes, IP and patent suits, bankruptcy, and insurance risk and coverage matters. As part of her ERISA and mutual fund litigation practice, Ms. Douglass is involved in a broad range of class actions, derivative actions and multi-proceeding litigations.

Professional Activities

In addition to her complex commercial litigation practice, Ms. Douglass has extensive pro bono experience. She works with the New England Innocence Project representing incarcerated individuals in their pursuit of post-conviction exoneration through DNA, and has served as a Committee for Public Counsel Services Bar Advocate representing indigent criminal defendants.

Professional Experience

Prior to joining Goodwin in 2005, Ms. Douglass was an associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault in Boston.


Ms. Douglass is listed in the nationwide ERISA Litigation category in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Since 2007, she has been annually recognized as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer “Rising Star” by Law & Politics and Boston magazine. In 2013 and 2014, she was recognized by The Legal 500 U.S.

Areas of Practice


Ms. Douglass counsels and defends a broad range of clients, including 401(k) plan service providers, directed trustees, investment managers, plan fiduciaries, and insurance companies, with a particular focus on ERISA fiduciary issues. Ms. Douglass is currently representing some of the largest financial institutions in excessive fee litigation under ERISA and the Investment Company Act of 1940. Her recent experience includes representing:

  • Affiliated service providers to retirement plans in excessive 401(k) fee cases challenging the way in which ERISA plans pay for investment and recordkeeping services. Participated in securing the first dismissal of all claims against a service provider in this wave of cases.
  • The same service providers in similar action pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, involving four-week trial in 2010. Trial decision granted judgment for Goodwin’s client on all counts except one technical claim as to which appeals court subsequently reversed judgment.
  • A 401(k) plan trustee in breach of ERISA fiduciary duty class action arising from the distribution of retirement plan assets to employees of Abbott Laboratories; the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina dismissed all claims against our client prior to trial.
  • One of the leading insurance companies providing 401(k) recordkeeping services in putative class action brought on behalf of all of its plan clients alleging breaches of ERISA fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions by the receipt of allegedly excessive fees.
  • One of the nation’s largest insurance companies in putative nationwide class action raising novel claims under ERISA and the Investment Company Act of 1940, challenging the fee structures of variable annuity and mutual fund products offered to retirement plans. Obtained appellate affirmance of dismissal of mutual fund-related claims and dismissal of ERISA claims by trial court.
  • A leading life insurance company in a putative class action of all participants of welfare plans who received death benefits in the form of retained asset accounts, challenging under ERISA the propriety of such arrangements.
  • A mortgage company, and certain of its officers and directors, in ERISA breach of fiduciary class actions in connection with investment of plan assets in company stock.
  • Multiple investment managers and ERISA plan fiduciaries in regulatory proceedings before the Department of Labor and the SEC.



J.D., 2000
Fordham University School of Law

(cum laude, Order of the Coif)

B.A., 1995
Middlebury College

(cum laude)



New York


U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
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