About Watkins, Pawlick, Calati & Prifti

Our History

The law firm known today as Watkins, Pawlick, Calati & Prifti was formed in February 2019 by the Madison Heights employee benefits team of Sachs Waldman following that firm’s dissolution after nearly 100 years.  We formed our firm to continue a legacy of dedication to serving working people and performing efficient, but high quality legal services for our clients.

In the 1950s, those who started our team were among the first to establish a significant practice focused on representing multiemployer Taft-Hartley benefit funds. We learned directly from those Sachs Waldman attorneys, Ted Sachs and Rolland O’Hare, who drafted some of the first plans in the country.  Not only did those attorneys provide us with knowledge of how the law developed through the years, but they provided us with the historical context of the development of Taft-Hartley plans in Michigan. Appreciating the responsibility of continuing their legacy, we are truly standing on the shoulders of giants.

Our team has grown over the years and we now have one of the largest and most respected Taft-Hartley benefit fund practices in the State of Michigan.  The creation of WPCP is part of our continued growth, but does not represent a change in our ethics, our dedication, or our knowledge base.

Our Reputation

Our team’s reputation for intellectual rigor, the highest ethical standards, and vigorous representation of the interests of working families is unsurpassed.  Union and Management Trustees alike have great trust and confidence in our team because they know that our first priority and focus will always be on the best interests of the participants and beneficiaries of the fund, consistent with their own fiduciary obligations.  A hallmark of our firm’s reputation is that we provide independent and unbiased advice and recommendations to our clients.

We rely on our reputation to earn new clients. We do not have an active marketing effort that could potentially create issues for clients as there are criminal provisions and prohibited transaction rules that govern how a Trustee selects service providers.  We not only provide advice to our clients on how to maintain the high ethical standards that apply to an ERISA fiduciary, we strive to demonstrate those same standards every day in our practice.

Our Team, Approach and Philosophy

Our team consists of six dedicated attorneys. We are committed almost entirely to the practice of employee benefits, representing pension, annuity, health, apprenticeship, vacation, supplemental unemployment and other funds, including their associated collections programs.  We also provide legal services directly to unions.

We use a team approach to provide services, but identify one attorney as the primary contact.  We provide clients with the very highest quality legal services, delivered in a timely and cost effective manner.  We believe we have proved this over time by maintaining relatively low annual fees for our clients in relation to their peers and keeping them free from troublesome and protracted litigation or significant enforcement actions.

We have a keen appreciation of the financial pressures facing ERISA funds in Michigan and the fact that every dollar spent on operating expenses is a dollar not available to provide benefits to a funds’ participants and beneficiaries. This and our unique participant-focused ethic informs our daily practice. We strive to find economy and add value in our work without sacrificing quality.  Our commitment to working people is not just a slogan; even the staff of a well-intentioned employer can benefit from Union representation, which is one of the reasons why the non-managerial, clerical staff of our firm is represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local No. 42.

Our firm’s expertise in employee benefits is recognized by other service providers.  We have even been consulted by other law firms for our experience in governmental audits and investigations, VCP filings, the Pension Protection Act, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and related matters.

We also maintain memberships in the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee (LCC), and the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP). Through the LCC, in particular, we can leverage the knowledge and experiences of a nationwide group of ERISA practitioners.  We often get insight into new enforcement initiatives as they are first developed and the responses that enforcement agencies have found acceptable.

We know providing solid and reliable advice that protects our clients is what we are hired to do.

To speak about how we can serve you, please contact WPCP.