John L. Utz

P 913.685.7978 | F 913.345.0736


John Utz utilizes a deep understanding of his clients’ business models to build and implement effective and legally compliant employee benefit programs and executive compensation packages. He provides services critical to success, profitability, and employee recruitment and retention. He has vast experience with more than four decades handling matters affecting pension, profit sharing, and 401(k) plans, health and welfare programs, as well as ESOPs, Section 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, Section 457 plans, stock options, nonqualified deferred compensation, incentive pay, and severance pay.

John works directly with HR professionals, executives, and business owners to develop scalable solutions for retirement, health, executive compensation, and other benefit plans both tailored to the client’s business needs and compliant with applicable laws and regulations. While keeping clients up to date with changes in ERISA, the tax code, and other relevant regulations, he offers proactive advice and timely reviews based on emerging trends in health care reform, 401(k) plan rules, and much more.

A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and the American College of Tax Counsel, John has established a well-deserved reputation for being a sought-after thought leader in the community. For instance, he has published more than 100 articles in professional journals and has shared timely and relevant insights at hundreds of speaking opportunities at local, regional, and national professional events – both private and public. John is also active in the American Bar Association, having served as chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Section of Taxation and on several subcommittees.



  • University of Illinois College of Law, 1982 (J.D.), magna cum laude
  • University of Illinois, 1979 (M.S.)
  • University of Missouri, 1978 (A.B.), magna cum laude with honors

Bar Admissions

  • Kansas, 1997
  • Missouri, 1982

  • American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Fellow, 2002-present
  • American College of Tax Counsel, Fellow, 2016-present
  • Best Lawyers in America, 1995-present
  • Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2017
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, 2006-present
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, Top 100, 2016
  • Pensions & Benefits, Who’s Who Legal, 2017-present
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent Rating
  • Illinois Bar Journal, Notes Editor – Recent Decisions Section
  • Order of the Coif
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Pi Mu Epsilon

  • American Bar Association
    • Tax Section, Employee Benefits Committee
      • Chair, 2010-2011
      • Vice Chair, 2007-2010
      • Subcommittee on Pension Legislation
        • Co-Chair, 2004-2007
        • Chair, 1996-1999
      • Subcommittee on Litigation, Co-Chair, 2006-2007
      • Task Force on Current IRS Revenue Rulings, Chair, 1994-1996
      • Subcommittee on Distributions, Member, 1993-1996
    • Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Representative, 2008-2011
    • Labor and Employment Law Section, Employee Benefits Committee
      • Subcommittee on Welfare Benefit Plans, Co-Chair, 1994-1999
      • Task Force on Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements, Co-Chair, 1994
      • Subcommittee on Reporting and Disclosure, Co-Chair, 1991-1993
    • Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Employee Benefits Committee
      • Vice Chair, 1996-1998
  • American College of Employee Benefits Counsel
    • Board of Governors, 2007-2010
    • Assistant Treasurer, 2007-2008
  • The Employee Benefits Institute of Kansas City, Inc.
    • Steering Committee
      • Chair, 1987, 2019
      • Member, 1987-2006, 2012-present
      • Board of Directors, 1994-95, 2019-present
  • IRS Advisory Council
    • Internal Revenue Service Mid-States Key District Employee Plans / Exempt Organizations Council
      • Chair, 2000
      • Member, 1997-2000
  • Great Lakes TE/GE Council, Member, 2016-present
  • The John Marshall Law School Center for Tax Law & Employee Benefits
    • Employee Benefits Advisory Board Member, 2011-2014
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
    • Employee Benefits Committee, Chair, 1992
  • Missouri Bar Association
  • Agricultural Law Committee, Former Member
    • Chair, 1992-1993
  • Missouri Chamber of Commerce
    • Board of Directors, Former Member
  • National Association of Stock Plan Professionals
    • Board of Directors, Kansas City Chapter, 2001-2006
  • SouthWest Benefits Association
    • Board of Directors, 1998-2002
  • The University of Kansas School of Law, Adjunct Professor, Fall 1996
  • ERISA Litigation Reporter (Thomson Reuters), Editorial Board
    • Editor with Shannon M. Barrett, Gregory F. Jacob, and Meaghan VerGow, 2009-2019
  • Lexis Practice Advisor Board Member, 2017-2019
  • Employee Benefits Law (Annual Supplements, BNA Books), Board of Senior Editors, 2000-2010
  • Journal of Deferred Compensation, Editorial Advisory Board, Former Member
  • Journal of Pension Planning & Compliance, Editorial Advisory Board, Former Member
  • ERISA and Benefits Law Journal, Board of Editors, Former Member
  • Pension Plan Administrator, Editorial Board Advisors, Former Member