Cindy S. Birley

Cindy S. Birley


P: 303.892.7347

F: 303.893.1379




Ethan Nutter

P: 303.892.7551

Admitted In

  • Colorado
Birley, Cindy S.

Cindy Birley is a Partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP with over 25 years of experience in the employee benefits and executive compensation field. She has in-depth knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Ms. Birley’s expertise includes performing comprehensive compliance audits and reviews, designing and drafting all types of qualified, non-qualified, and welfare plans, and consulting with respect to all aspects of retirement plan terminations, tax, and ERISA-related issues, and mergers and acquisitions. She has extensive public sector and church plan experience.

Awards & Recognition

  • Recognized, The Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2008-2015
  • Recognized, Chambers USA Guide, 2013-2014
  • Rated, AV® PreeminentTM 5.0 out of 5 in Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Ratings
  • Received, Hammer Award in 2001 from Vice President Al Gore’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association; Colorado Bar Association; and Denver Bar Association 
  • American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries
  • National Association of Public Pension Attorneys 
  • Denver Chapter of the Western Pension & Benefits Conference
  • Colorado Municipal League

Education& Special Certifications

University of Denver, LL.M., Taxation, 1990
University of Michigan, J.D., 1984
University of Iowa, B.B.A., summa cum laude, 1981
Certificate as C.P.A. in State of Iowa

May 2014

Chambers USA Ranks DGS at the Top Corporate/M&A and Natural Resources & Environment Practices

The 2014 edition of the Chambers USA ranked Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP first in Colorado in the areas of Corporate/M&A and Natural Resources & Environment. Chambers USA also recognized DGS for its strong Labor & Employment and Commercial Litigation practices.

August 2011

Davis Graham & Stubbs Attorneys Named Best Lawyers®

Thirty-eight DGS attorneys, including nearly half of the firm’s partners, were named Best Lawyers® by publisher Woodward/White, Inc. in its annual guide to legal excellence.  The 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America is based on a peer-review survey in which more than 39,000 leading attorneys comment on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas.  Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers® “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”


August 2010

Davis Graham & Stubbs Attorneys Top “Best Lawyers” List in Colorado

The newly announced, 2011 edition of the Best Lawyers in America ranks Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP first in Colorado-based law practices for corporate governance and compliance law, environmental law, mergers and acquisitions law, natural resources law, oil and gas law and securities law. This year Best Lawyers recognizes 36 DGS attorneys, including 13 who have been named to the list for at least 10 years. Nearly half (46 percent) of DGS partners are recognized in the definitive guide to legal excellence, in addition to several attorneys of counsel to the firm. Best Lawyers is a peer-review survey of more than 39,000 in-house counsels and private practice attorneys.


January 2010

Age Discrimination Case – DGS Wins Precedent-Setting Appeal

DGS has won a precedent-setting appeal in an age discrimination case. In a published opinion issued on January 6, the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals adopted the arguments of the DGS appellate group that an Oklahoma statute setting a maximum age limit for new police officers does not violate the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.


August 2009

Davis Graham & Stubbs Attorneys Top “Best Lawyers” List in Colorado

The 2010 edition of the Best Lawyers in America ranks Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP first in Colorado-based attorneys practicing in the areas of commercial litigation, corporate governance and compliance law, environmental law, natural resources law, oil & gas law and securities law. 


March 2009

New COBRA Requirements for Premium Subsidies in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009, provides for subsidies for the cost of COBRA health care continuation coverage and places new administrative responsibilities on employers relating to terminated employees.


October 2008

Davis Graham & Stubbs tops "Best Lawyer" list in Colorado

Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, with 31 attorneys practicing in 30 fields, ranks first in Colorado in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyers in America for the practice areas of corporate and securities law and commercial litigation as well as energy, environmental, natural resources and oil and gas law. The number of DGS lawyers recognized in the definitive guide to legal excellence increased by two, and includes nearly half of the firm’s partners. 


March 2008

Important Employment Law News

This quarter’s employment alert focuses on recent activity by Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor with respect to the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), and activity by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding a rule about employee health benefits.


September 2007

Davis Graham & Stubbs Tops "Best Lawyers" List in Colorado

Davis Graham & Stubbs – with 29 attorneys practicing in 30 fields – ranks first in Colorado-based attorneys listed in the 2008 edition of Best Lawyers in America for the practice areas of commercial litigation, natural resources, environmental law and corporate governance and compliance law. The number of DGS lawyers recognized in the definitive guide to legal excellence increased by three, and includes half of the firm’s partners. The book, targeted for in-house counsel, is to be published in December 2007.


October 2004

Companies Need to Reexamine Deferred Compensation Arrangements in Response to The American Jobs Creation Act

On October 22, 2004, President Bush signed into law The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. The Act includes a broad range of changes and additions to the Internal Revenue Code that will affect many businesses directly, including potential new taxes on deferred compensation and harsh penalties for "listed" and "reportable" transactions.


July 2002

Compliance Issues for Qualified Plans

Effects of Plan Disqualification

A. Timing of Disqualification: The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS” or “Service”) maintains that once a disqualifying defect occurs, the plan is disqualified for all subsequent years. As a practical matter, the applicable statute of limitations for assessing additional taxes is generally three years from the due date (including extensions) of a timely filed return or the actual filing date of a late-filed return. A Schedule P must be filed with Form 5500 to start the period for the Plan’s trust. See I.R.S. Announcement 80-45, 1980-15 I.R.B. 17.


January 2001

New Trends in Public Sector Plans

Trusts & Estates

Co-authors: Cindy S. Birley and Rebecca L. Hudson

This article examines recent trends in the benefits that public sector plans provide to the large number of state and local government workers and retirees participating in these plans. The article discusses the significant provisions of the recently signed Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 affecting governmental plans relating to such issues as portability, increased contribution limits and “catch-up” contributions. The article also details three trends: 1) providing matching contributions for 457 plan deferrals into qualified 401(a) plans; 2) the rise in self-direction of deferred retirement option programs (“DROPS”); and 3) self-directed retiree health savings plans.


February 1998

Deferred Retirement Option Programs

Co-authors: Cindy Birley and Kent Eichstadt

Deferred retirement option programs (commonly referred to as “DROP” programs) were first introduced in the 1980s by public sector employers. A DROP is a popular means for employers to retain long-term, experienced employees beyond normal retirement and attain some certainty as to when they will retire. A DROP also provides members greater flexibility and choice in structuring the benefit payments they will receive when they retire. The popularity of DROP programs has increased, especially for police and firefighter retirement systems.


November 1991

Participant-Directed Accounts in Retirement Plans: 1991 DOL Proposed Regulations

Co-authors: Cindy S. Birley and Deborah K. Distler

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued revised proposed regulations for those defined contribution plans that allow participants or beneficiaries to make investment choices with regard to assets held in their individual accounts. Compliance with these new rules would offer plan fiduciaries a certain amount of protection from liability for losses resulting from participant- directed investments. This article discusses the revised proposed regulations, which replace the 1987 proposed regulations.


September 1990

Plan Design: Flexible Compensation

Benefits Law Journal

Co-authors: Richard A. Rose and Cindy S. Birley

Flexible compensation programs have flourished since their inception and have become a popular method of delivering benefits.  Even though there have been various arrangements for employers to deliver flexible compensation to employees, this article addresses the true flexible compensation arrangements in which employers provide employees with an amount of money and a choice of benefits to be purchased with that money.