Paula Calimafde serves individuals and businesses in estate planning, estate and trust administration, qualified retirement plans and tax law. Her knowledge and commitment to these areas is demonstrated by her membership in a very select and small group of attorneys across the country – those admitted to three distinguished Colleges: the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the American College of Tax Counsel and the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.

Paula has more than 35 years of experience advising companies and tax-exempt organizations on qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and employee benefits, including cafeteria plans. She is a nationally recognized leader in the field of creative retirement plan designs for businesses and works closely with management and owners to prepare retirement plans, which suit the particular corporate needs. Known for providing clients with clear explanations with a personal touch, Paula brings a very logical yet creative approach to resolving difficult issues.

Paula’s practice encompasses sophisticated estate planning and advising individuals with significant assets, including retirement plan assets. She also works closely with the owners of family-owned businesses in the estate planning and retirement planning areas and assists them in planning for the succession of the business.

A longtime legislative advocate for businesses in the Federal tax and employee benefits arena, Paula is the current chair, past President, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Small Business Council of America (SBCA). The SBCA is the only national non-profit organization that has represented the interests of privately owned businesses exclusively in the Federal tax, retirement, health care, and employee benefits areas for more than 40 years.

Paula has served as a director of the Small Business Legislative Council since 1992. The SBLC is a 47-year-old permanent, independent coalition of over 50 trade and professional associations that share a common commitment to the future of small and privately owned businesses. SBLC members represent the interests of such businesses in such diverse economic sectors as manufacturing, retailing, distribution, professional and technical services, construction, transportation, and agriculture. SBLC policies are developed by consensus among its membership. Paula was the Chair of the SBLC in 2010 and in 2014 was asked to become the President and General Counsel of the SBLC, two positions she still holds.

Her ability to analyze and explain complicated tax issues has earned Paula invitations to speak and present to groups throughout the region and around the country. See a comprehensive list below under “Speaking Engagements.”

In 2000, she was selected as a Charter Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, a non-profit organization dedicated to elevating the standards and advancing the public’s understanding of the practice of employee benefits law and recognizing the achievements of distinguished employee benefits attorneys. In 2007, Paula was elected as a Fellow to the American College of Tax Counsel, a non-profit association made up of tax lawyers who are recognized for their excellence in tax practice and for their substantial contributions and commitment to the profession. In 2008, Paula was selected as a Fellow to the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a non-profit association whose members are elected to the College by demonstrating the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence and experience as trust and estate counselors.

Paula has been directly involved in the shaping of Federal retirement plan and employee benefits law. She has testified on multiple occasions before Congressional Committees, including the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, on such topics as “Private Retirement Plans and Oversight of the Internal Revenue Service,” “Pension Access and Simplification Issues,” “Cross-Tested Retirement Plans,” “Impact of Capital Gains Taxes on Business Owners,” “Increasing Savings for Retirement,” “Enhancing Retirement Security” and on the “Impact of the Estate Tax on Small Businesses. Paula has worked closely with key members of Congress with respect to many of the major pieces of legislation affecting retirement plans.

Paula has participated in numerous roundtable discussions held by the White House on health care issues, and the House Small Business Committee and the U.S. Small Business Administration Chief Counsel of Advocacy on retirement plan, income and estate tax issues.

In 1995, Paula was appointed by the White House (President Bill Clinton) to serve as a Presidential Delegate at that year’s White House Conference on Small Business. In that capacity, she was instrumental in drafting and promoting many of the recommendations in the tax and employee benefits area, which were included in the top 20 recommendations voted out of that conference.  In 1985, she was appointed by the White House (President Ronald Reagan) to serve as one of eleven Commissioners chairing the Payroll Costs and Benefits section. There were almost 2,000 delegates from across the country attending the Conference. Paula was appointed by the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Honorable Trent Lott, to participate in the 1998 National Summit on Retirement Income Savings. From 2003 – 2018, she served as a member of the IRS Determination Letter Liaison Group.

Paula loves to stay in Sedona, Carlsbad, Cabo, and at her home on the Chesapeake Bay. She loves nature and boating, and is an avid gardener.


  • Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (J.D., 1973)
  • Swarthmore College (B.A., 1973)


  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia

Honors and awards

  • Best Lawyers in America – Best Lawyers, Tax Law, Trusts and Estates, Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships), Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2014-Present)
  • Best Lawyers in America – Lawyer of the Year: Washington, D.C.: Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) (2022)
  • Listed in Super Lawyers Maryland, Employee Benefits (2007-2023)
  • Listed in Super Lawyers Washington, DC, Employee Benefits (2007-2020)
  • “Top Financial Advisers – Estate Attorneys,” – Washingtonian magazine (2019-2020, 2022)
  • “Top Lawyers” – Washingtonian magazine (2018, 2020, 2022)
  • “Top Estate Lawyers” – Bethesda Magazine (2018)
  • Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (2008-present)
  • Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel (2007-present)
  • Charter Fellow, American College of Employee Benefits Counsel (2000-present)
  • Washington SmartCEO Top Lawyers (2009)
  • Profiles in Success: Inspiration from Executive Leaders in the Washington D.C. Area, Vol. 9, by Gordon J. Bernhardt, CPA, PFS, CFP, AIF (2013)
  • Ranked AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings

Professional memberships

  • Small Business Council of America, Inc. ( Chair, 1994-present; President, 1988-1994; Member, Director, 1984-present)
  • Small Business Legislative Council (President and General Counsel, 2014-present; Chair, 2010; Board of Directors,1992-present)
  • IRS Determination Letter Liaison Group (Member, 2003-present)
  • Employee Benefits Council, Chamber of Commerce of the United States (1986-1994, 1996-present)
  • Closely Held Committee of the ABA Tax Section (Past Chair, 1988-1990; Vice Chair, 1986-1988)
  • National Life (Small Business) Advisory Board (1993-2000)
  • Advisory Board of the Journal of S Corporation Taxation (1989-1994)
  • Washington, D.C. Estate Planning Council (1994-present)
  • Tax Sections of the bars of Maryland, the District of Columbia and Montgomery County

Practice Areas


Lerch Early’s estate and trust attorneys help people throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area protect their assets while minimizing tax liability through sophisticated planning and administration.

News & insights

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Speaking engagements

  • Paula’s ability to analyze and explain complicated tax issues has earned her invitations to speak and present to groups throughout the region and around the country, including with:
    • The American Bar Association
    • ALI-ABA
    • Corbel
    • BNA
    • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    • IRS Employee Benefits Conference
    • The American Society of Association Executives
    • The American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries
    • Numerous other state and local Bar Associations, CPA Associations and Estate Planning Councils
  • Paula has lectured on topics, including:
    • “Insider’s View of Washington – Update on Recent and Pending Tax Legislation”
    • “The ABCs of Choosing a Pension Plan – Whether and What Kind of Plan to Adopt from a Small and Large Employer Perspective”
    • “New Retirement Plan Designs, Including the Cross-Tested Plan”
    • “Methods of Dealing with Large Retirement Plan Accumulations”
    • “The 3 P’s of Pensions – Protecting Assets after the Bull Market, Plan Selection and Plan Distribution”
  • Interviewed on Executive Leaders Radio for a piece on Profiles in Success: Inspiration from Executive Leaders in the Washington D.C. Area (2013)