John E. Schembari

(402) 231-8886
(402) 346-1148 Fax

Mr. Schembari is Chair of the Corporate Finance Department. He concentrates his practice primarily in employee benefits, executive compensation, tax, corporate and privacy law.

Mr. Schembari works with private, public and governmental employers on their qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, employee stock ownership plans, insured and self-funded health plans, executive and incentive compensation programs, and other equity-based compensation arrangements. He advises compensation committees, ERISA fiduciaries, in-house counsel, and finance and human resources executives from companies of all sizes, including several of the largest employers in the United States. He assists clients in managing their growth and expansion through designing employee benefit programs that recruit and retain high-quality personnel. Mr. Schembari is widely known for providing practical and straightforward advice in complex areas of the law.

Mr. Schembari is a nationally recognized speaker on employee benefits, executive compensation, tax and privacy matters. He speaks several times per year across the country to thousands of participants. He has also authored numerous articles in his areas of specialty for law journals, magazines and other publications.

Since 2007 Mr. Schembari has been selected by his peers for The Best Lawyers In America® listings for Employee Benefits Law. In 2012 and 2018 he was recognized by Best Lawyers® as the Omaha Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law "Lawyer of the Year." He also is one of only three lawyers identified by Chambers and Partners as a leading ERISA attorney in the state of Nebraska. Chambers and Partners lists Mr. Schembari as a “notable practitioner” and notes that "“He is highly regarded by clients who praise his “fantastic level of expertise,” describing him as “outstanding” and “an amazing person to work with.” Previously Chambers reported that he "is an expert on employee benefits, deferred compensation and tax matters . . . [and] enjoys a formidable reputation, and sources affirm that he 'is very well respected and does very good work.'" The 2016 Chambers and Partners report adds that Mr. Schembari "is very well known within the benefits sector and is a go-to resource for his knowledge in this area - he adds tremendous depth to any conversation”. Clients note that he is “an outstanding partner to work with." Additionally Mr. Schembari has a peer review rating of “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell®.

His recent experience includes:

  • Serving as ERISA and benefits counsel for Fortune 500 companies with hundreds of thousands of employees around the world.
  • Providing guidance to employers and federal agencies on the Affordable Care Act.
  • Serving as company counsel in more than 300 million of leveraged ESOP transactions involving Code section 1042 rollovers, proxy votes and subchapter S elections.
  • Representing Taft-Hartley (multiemployer) funds, including pension, self-funded health and welfare and 401(k) plans.
  • Serving as lead counsel to state-sponsored college savings and prepaid tuition programs under Code section 529.
  • Designing, drafting and implementing a variety of nonqualified deferred compensation plans and equity incentive plans for key management employees of private and publicly traded companies.
  • Serving as counsel to governmental entities in connection with the maintenance and operation of defined benefit, defined contribution and health and welfare plans.
  • Conducting dozens of fiduciary and tax compliance reviews for employee benefit plans with over $10 billion in assets.
  • Serving as an independent fiduciary to ERISA-governed employee benefit plans.


  • Co-author, "Taking a Look at Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plans," Benefits Magazine, April 2017.
  • “Fiduciary Duties in the Public Sector,” Benefits Magazine, April 2015.
  • "Effective Use of ESOPs for Banks," Nebraska Banker, November/December 2014.
  • "Living Through IRS and DOL Audits and Investigations," Benefit Magazine, 2011.
  • "New Retirement Plan and IRA Limits Provide Opportunities for Employers and Employees," Nebraska Lawyer, 2001.
  • "1042 Rollover Transactions: Don't Forget to Cross Your T’s and Dot Your I’s," Journal of Compensation and Benefits, 1998.
  • "Missing – QDRO Guidance," Journal of Pension Benefits, 1996.
  • "Protecting Deferred Compensation With Bankruptcy Insurance," Journal of Pension Benefits, 1994.


  • Refresher on Fiduciary Responsibility, October 15, 2018, presentation at International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 64th Annual Employee Benefits Conference, New Orleans, LA.
  • Another Look at Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) Programs, November 15, 2016, presentation at International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 62nd Annual Employee Benefits Conference, Orlando, FL.
  • Keeping Your Wellness Program Legal, Annual Nebraska Safety Council Conference, September 20, 2016.
  • Advice About Advice: How Your Retirement Plan Will be Impacted by the New Department of Labor Fiduciary Role, August 25, 2016, presentation to State Human Resource Group, La Vista NE.
  • Qualified Retirement Plans: How to Fix Common Errors, Webinar, Clear Law Institute, August 17, 2016.
  • Keeping Your Wellness Program Legal, Omaha, NE, March 22, 2016.
  • Legal and Legislative Update, 2016 PSCA Omaha City Event Symposium, March 15, 2016.
  • A View of the Legal Landscape (ERISA), Regional Plan Sponsor Council of America Conference, Omaha, NE, April 23, 2015.
  • Best Practices for ESOP Fiduciaries, John Schembari, Omaha, NE, November 11, 2014.
  • Revisiting Fiduciary Responsibilities in Public Sector Plans, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans 60th Annual Employee Benefits Conference, Boston, MA, October 12, 2014.
  • The Affordable Care Act’s Impact on Employee Benefit Plans, Omaha, NE, May 15, 2014.
  • The Most Common Mistakes Made by Qualified Plan Sponsors and How to Fix Them, Omaha, NE, November 21, 2013.
  • Compliance Check-Up for Training Funds, Las Vegas, NV, October 22, 2013.
  • Acting as a Fiduciary for Your Training Fund, Las Vegas, NV, October 21, 2013.
  • Final Resolution and Getting your Money, Boston, MA, September 19, 2013.
  • Collection Nightmares, IFEBP, Boston, MA, September 18, 2013.
  • Preparing Your Employee Benefit Programs for 2014, Kansas City, MO, June 21, 2013.
  • Health Care Reform: Preparing for 2014, Omaha, Nebraska, January 23, 2013.
  • Communication Compliance in Pension Plans, San Diego, California, November 2012.
  • U.S. Legalese: Effective Employee Benefit Communication, 2012, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Fiduciary Best Practices, 2012, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • HIPAA & HITECH, 2012, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • 2011 Employee Benefits Update - The Quiet Before the Storm, National Webinar.
  • Issues in Securing Managers, 2011, Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Selecting and Monitoring Plan Professionals, Orlando, 2011.
  • Implementing a Successful Request for Proposal, Orlando, 2011.
  • Living Through IRS and DOL Audits and Investigations, 2010, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • PPA Disclosure Requirements, 2010, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • National Association of Budgeting and Finance Management Conference, Public Pension Plans: Out of Control, 2010, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Fee Disclosure Regulations, 2010, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Heightened Regulation of Employer Provided Benefits: A Primer for Non-ERISA Transactional and Litigation Attorneys, 2010, Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • Health Care Reform, 2010, Multiple Locations.
  • ARRA's Impact on Business Associates, 2009, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Pension Protection Act, 2009, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Employment Tips & Trends: What Employers Need to Know for 2009, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • ESOPs as an Exit Strategy, 2008, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Legal Fiduciary Update, 2008, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Selection and Evaluation of Professional Advisors, IFEBP 54th Annual Employee Benefits Conference, 2008, San Antonio, Texas.
  • Surviving a DOL Audit, 2008, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • The Difference Between Investment Education and Investment Advice, 2008, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • 409A Implications for CPAs and Tax Professionals, 2008, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Employee Welfare Plans, 2007, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Fiduciary Responsibility, 2007, Anaheim, California.
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plans, 2007, Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Nonqualified Deferred Compensation: What Every HR Department Must Do Under Code Section 409A's Final Regulations Before Year End, 2007, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Legislative and Regulatory Update for Employee Benefit Plans, 2007, Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Paid Time Off in Nebraska and Other States, 2006, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Employer Withdrawal Liability, 2006, Hollywood, Florida.
  • Today’s Fiduciary Standards, 2006, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Preserving Plan Assets by Pursuing Fraudulent Claims, 2006, Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • "Qualified" Nonqualified Plans, 2006, Omaha, Nebraska .
  • A Primer: Trustees’ Fundamental Duties, Liabilities and Immunities, 2006, Arizona.
  • Trustee’s Duty Upon Discovery of Possible Fraud, 2006, Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Fiduciary Liability and ERISA § 404(c), 2006, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Surviving a Department of Labor Audit, 2006, Las Vegas, Nevada .
  • Fiduciary Duties for Trustees of Health and Welfare Funds, 2005, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • How to Avoid a Breach of Fiduciary Duties, 2005, Arizona.
  • Employment Law Overview, 2005, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Employee Benefit Plans Fiduciary Responsibilities, 2005, Denver, Colorado.
  • Executive Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans, 2005, Honolulu, Hawaii.