Alison V Douglass

Alison V. Douglass

Alison V. Douglass
+1 617 570 1676

Alison Douglass, a partner in Goodwin’s Complex Business Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Financial Services Litigation 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. Alison has been selected for inclusion to Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in ERISA Litigation since 2014 and clients laud her abilities, saying: “She is an extremely talented litigator who excels as an advocate and on case strategy.” She has also been recognized by The Legal 500 and named a “Rising Star” by Law & Politics and Boston magazine.

Alison represents clients in all phases of litigation, including pre-litigation counseling and trial and appellate matters in federal courts across the county and in regulatory investigations and governmental proceedings, including before the US Department of Labor and the SEC. As part of her ERISA and mutual fund litigation practice, Alison is involved in a broad range of class actions, derivative actions and multi-proceeding litigations. She also regularly advises clients on risk management and insurance coverage matters. Alison joined Goodwin in 2005 and serves on the firm’s Partnership Committee.


Alison 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. Alison 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

Professional Activities

In addition to her complex commercial litigation practice, Alison 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, Alison was an associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault in Boston.




Fordham University School of Law

(cum laude, Order of the Coif)


Middlebury College

(cum laude)



  • Massachusetts
  • New York


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

Recognition & Awards

Alison 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, 2014, 2017, 2022 and most recently in 2023, she was recognized by The Legal 500 US as a Leading Lawyer in ERISA litigation.


Alison’s recent publications include:

Alison’s recent speaking engagements include:

  • “ERISA Litigation Update,” Practising Law Institute’s ERISA 2023: The Evolving World Program, July 2023
  • “DCIIA Public Policy Series – The Code Breaker: What to Expect when you’re Expecting (Litigation)?,” May 2021
  • “The Great Myth: Passive Investing Eliminates Fiduciary Risk,” T. Rowe Price Webcast, June 2017
  • “The Misperception of Fiduciary Risk and Active Management in DC Plans,” T. Rowe Price Target Date Summit, June 2017
  • “Facing Today's Challenges: Toward More Effective Fiduciaries,” Callan Associates Workshop, May 2017
  • “DCIIA 403(b) Litigation Webinar & Roundtable,” Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association, November 2017
  • “Lessons Learned from Litigation," 2016 PLANADVISER National Conference, September 2016
  • “Staying out of trouble: Understanding your fiduciary responsibilities,” JPM: 2016 Defined Contribution Summit, May 2016
  • “The Tibble v. Edison International Decision: Current Landscape of 401(k) Fee Cases and Evolving Defense Strategies,” American Conference Institute - 10th National Forum on Defending and Managing ERISA Litigation, October 2015
  • “Hot ERISA Topics: Staying Out of Trouble in Today’s Litigious World,” Alliance Bernstein Retirement Solutions Forum, October 2015
  • “ERISA Litigation Impacting Insurers,” IRI Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference: Retirement Plan Forum, 2014 and 2015
  • “ERISA Litigation Update,” DCIIA 5th Annual Public Policy Forum, April 2014
  • “ERISA Litigation Webinar to Focus on Fiduciary Issues,” Goodwin Webinar, October 2013
  • “ERISA Enforcement and Compliance,” The Knowledge Group Webcast, August 2013