Steve D. Spencer

Steven D. Spencer who died in 2020 at age 67 was a nationally recognized expert in employee benefits and was a Charter Fellow in 2000 of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.

Steve’s professional accomplishments were numerous and were concentrated mainly in the employee benefits and labor law practices. Steve attended Cornell University for his undergraduate studies and then pursued a law degree at Columbia University. After graduation, he moved to Philadelphia in 1978 to begin his legal career at the Morgan Lewis law firm. He initially practiced in Morgan Lewis’s Labor and Employment Practice Group and subsequently moved to Morgan Lewis’s Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation Practice Group. Steve served for nearly 20 years in the Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation Practice Group, first as Deputy and then as Practice Group Leader. He retired in 2018 having spent his entire 40-year career at Morgan Lewis.

Steve loved mentoring young and aspiring lawyers. He knew that the entire first generation of employee benefit lawyers practicing after the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) were all reaching the end of their legal careers. These lawyers had helped to develop the precedents that defined ERISA’s meaning and application. Steve made concerted efforts to pass on the accumulated knowledge of his career to a new generation of employee benefit lawyers.

Steve was a mentor to many lawyers within his firm, but Steve also reached beyond his law firm. Steve was a longtime adjunct professor at both The University of Pennsylvania Law School and Villanova Law School. Following his retirement in 2018, Steve became an adjunct faculty member at his beloved Cornell University, teaching courses in both the Law School and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (“ILR”). An annual award was established in his name at the ILR School in recognition of having taught the employee benefits law course “50 times over a 30-year period.” For more information, see

Steve was a prolific writer. Most significantly, he was the Contributing Editor of the ERISA Preemption Chapter of Employee Benefits Law. He was a Co-Chair of the Subcommittee on Employee Benefits of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the American Bar Association. Steve was also the recipient of numerous professional awards.

Steve had a strong belief in the importance of community service and dedicated much of his free time to helping others, including those with special needs and disabilities. Most significantly, Steve was the Chair of the Board of the Vanguard School in Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, which provided resources for children with learning disabilities. He was also the Chair of the Board of Achieve Now, an organization dedicated to increasing children’s literacy in Philadelphia. Finally, he lovingly served as head coach of the Lower Merion Soccer Club’s Special Needs Soccer Team in Pennsylvania for over 10 years.

Photo Source: Main Line Media News