Practice/Industry Group Overview
Our Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation practice solves our clients' problems related to benefits and compensation matters. To do that, we make a point of understanding each client's business, its workforce, its objectives, the metrics that make it successful and its attitudes on risk tolerance.
We represent hundreds of clients throughout the United States in all areas of employee benefits and executive compensation, including incentive compensation arrangements, pensions, ESOPs, 401(k) arrangements and other retirement plans, health and welfare plans and other benefits related matters. Our practice includes designing, implementing, maintaining and terminating employee benefit and compensation plans, and integrating plans in acquisitions and mergers.
The types of clients we serve enhance our perspective. We represent "consumers" of employee benefit services, such as employers and in-house fiduciaries. We also represent "providers" such as banks, mutual funds, investment advisers and third party administrators. Also, although we represent six companies in the Fortune 500, we also represent dozens of employee-owned companies and many governmental entities.
Our services include:
- Designing and implementing employee stock ownership plans
- Designing and implementing employee equity and “phantom” equity plans, including options, restricted stock and stock appreciation rights
- Designing and drafting retirement, health, welfare and deferred compensation plans and trust documents
- Working with the leading industry providers and vendors in the negotiation of favorable arrangements for our clients in order to satisfy applicable fiduciary duties and administrative requirements
- Representing ERISA fiduciaries (including trustees, investment advisers and administrative committee members) regarding their duties and unique issues. We successfully defended ERISA fiduciary in a precedent setting case affirmed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Representing employers and fiduciaries in ERISA litigation. We successfully defended an ERISA fiduciary in a precedent setting case affirmed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Representing providers of employee benefit services regarding the design and delivery of their products and services
- Designing solutions to complex securities law problems relating to employer stock held by plans. For example, we designed a payroll deduction, stock option plan for United States employees of a United Kingdom company
- Representing employers and fiduciaries in controversies before the IRS and Department of Labor. We settled with the IRS a potential prohibited transaction excise tax claim in excess of $100 million and at the same time negotiated a tax deduction for employee benefits in excess of $40 million
- Designing arrangements to retain and incent executives and other employees, including change-in-control severance agreements and retention agreements
- Advising plan administrators on correcting errors. Problems often arise for which no easy solution exists. Our responsibility is to help administrators implement practical solutions
- Analyzing employee benefit risks and opportunities in connection with mergers and acquisitions, and integrating the benefit programs of the combined entities. For example, in 2008 we were responsible for all benefit and compensation matters in a public company's sale of a $2 billion subsidiary
- Handling the benefit and compensation issues faced by companies in bankruptcy. For example, in 2008 and 2009 we represented a large public company in bankruptcy, which included multiple defined benefit pension plans