Christopher W. Waddell

Senior Counsel

Chris W. Waddell, now senior attorney at Olson Remcho, joined Olson, Hagel & Fishburn, LLP as a senior attorney in December, 2008, where he headed the firm’s Public Retirement Law practice.  He previously served as General Counsel for two California public retirement systems; first at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), the second largest public pension fund in the country, and later at the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System (SDCERS).  He has extensive experience in advising public pension trustees and staff on fiduciary obligations, Article XVI, Section 17 of the California Constitution (Proposition 162), the Political Reform Act, Government Code 1090, the Brown and Bagley-Keene open meetings acts, and the Public Records Act.

Chris currently serves as the outside General Counsel to the San Luis Obispo County Pension Trust, as the outside counsel for the CalSTRS Appeals Committee, and as fiduciary counsel to SDCERS, the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association and the three City of Los Angeles retirement systems.  He has also worked with the San Diego County Employees’ Retirement Association and the City of Oakland Police and Fire Retirement System.

Previously at SDCERS, Chris worked with the Board in their adoption of cutting edge governance policies in the areas of ethics, conflicts of interest, system independence and Board member core competencies.  While at CalSTRS, Chris worked with the Olson, Hagel litigation team and oversaw the strategy that recovered $700 million in unpaid pension contributions plus interest from the State of California in the Teachers Retirement Board v. Genest case.  He also developed and administered an innovative securities litigation policy that recouped approximately $200 million in CalSTRS investment losses, and worked with the CalSTRS Board in its adoption of significant enhancements to its governance and conflicts of interest policies, including “pay to play” policies and regulations that received national attention. In addition to legal services, he was also responsible for the compliance, privacy, contracts and audit functions and developed a framework for a strong, independent audit committee based upon private sector best practices.

Prior to joining CalSTRS, Chris was the Chief Counsel for the California Department of Finance and before that was the Chief Counsel for the California Department of Personnel Administration.  During a portion of his tenure at Finance, he served as the Department’s representative on the CalSTRS Board. At both departments, Chris worked on a number of significant pension issues affecting CalSTRS and CalPERS.

Chris is the author of a study released in 2009 by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees entitled “Enhancing Public Retiree Plan Security: Best Practice Policies for Trustees and Pension Systems.”  Chris was the lead author for the Clapman 2.0 Report, an update and expansion of the original 2007 Clapman report on pension fund governance best practices, issued by the Committee on Fund Governance of the Stanford Institutional Investors’ Forum.  He also authored a chapter entitled “Fulfilling Fiduciary Duties in an Imperfect World—Governance Recommendations from the Stanford Institutional Investors’ Forum” for the Cambridge Handbook of Institutional Investment and Fiduciary Duty, published in 2014 by Cambridge Press.

Chris is a member of the California Association of Public Retirement Systems, the State Association of County Retirement Systems, and the National Association of Public Pension Plan Attorneys (NAPPA), where he served as the Chair of the Investment Section and Co-Chair of the Fiduciary Section.  He has spoken frequently on fiduciary duty, pension governance, conflicts of interest, and securities litigation issues before the National Council on Teacher Retirement, NAPPA, CALAPRS, and the Stanford Fiduciary College.  He has also testified before Congress, the California Legislature, the San Diego City Council, and the San Diego Charter Revision Commission.

Chris earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science/Public Service from the University of California at Davis and his law degree from the McGeorge School of Law, where he was a writer and editor for the Pacific Law Journal.


  • University of California, Davis, B.A., Political Science/Public Service
  • McGeorge School of Law, J.D.


  • California


  • Sacramento