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United States > Labor and employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Overview

While not necessarily as busy as in the immediate aftermath, ERISA litigators are still riding the wave of the Supreme Court’s 2014 decisions in M&G Polymers USA LLC v Tackett and Fifth Third Bank v Dudenhoeffer, which led to an increase in disputes regarding retiree health benefits and ‘stock-drop’ cases respectively. A key form of stock-drop cases are ones relating to declining industries, with the litigation regarding former film camera behemoth Kodak being an obvious example. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as Obamacare) is yet to have a significant impact from a litigation perspective, but it has generated advisory work.

Employee benefits and executive compensation lawyers were kept busy in 2015, with the M&A boom leading to an increase in deal-related work, and the more plan-management focused lawyers keeping their eyes on a strengthened fiduciary rule mandating that financial advisers do what is in the best interests of their clients. On the other hand, work relating to same-sex partner benefits has quietened down following the Obergefell Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the US.

Immigration law market continues to be a dynamic area of practice, notably with an increased demand for advice on the global transfer of employees prompted by the economic recovery in the US. President Obama’s announcement in 2014 of intended executive action on immigration reform subsequently put into motion a number of changes to US immigration law in 2015. The demand for H1B visas - temporary workers in a specialty occupation - has been tremendous and both the President and Congress have taken steps to ease the demand. Under the L-1B visa program, workers with ‘specialized knowledge’ needed in the country may be transferred to the US. However, the narrow and sometimes inconsistent definition of ‘specialized knowledge’ continues to pose challenges to potential employers. Another active area is the EB-5 program, which allows entrepreneurs (plus their spouses and unmarried children under 21) to apply for a green card.

While specialist immigration law firms, such as Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP or Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, are market leaders, many larger full-service firms are bolstering their immigration departments to deal with rising demand.

Labor and employment policy remains uncertain as President Obama’s time in the White House draws to a close. Legislation continues to evolve at a federal and state level, as Democrats and Republicans campaign for a majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives; government agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have been particularly active in shaping federal law. In a recent example, the NLRB made a controversial decision against Browning-Ferris Industries - which it classed as a joint employer - through a ruling that enables unions and regulators to hold businesses accountable for the practices of agencies, contractors and franchisees that parent companies are affiliated with; Browning-Ferris filed an appeal in 2016. Employers faced further problems as a result of the NLRB’s decision to reduce the time between filing a petition for union representation and an election, which arguably denies companies the opportunity to stage an anti-union campaign prior to voting. The new rules took effect in April 2015.

Amendments to wage and hour rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act continue to pose problems for employers, and litigation in this area may increase as a result of the DOL’s update to regulations that could extend overtime protections to millions of white-collar employees. Boutiques and full-service firms also observed an uptick in cases concerning gender pay gaps, whistleblowing and retaliation claims filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and in wage and hour audits conducted by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. There were further hikes in suits concerning independent contractor classification, with class actions against Uber among the most high-profile cases in this area.

Another significant trend saw the EEOC focus on a wide array of systemic discrimination claims filed against employers through single-plaintiff, multi-plaintiff or class and collective actions. From 2017, private company and federal contractor employers with 100 or more employees will be required by the Commission to include pay and hours worked as part of their Employer Information Reports (EEO-1), and will also have to issue enforcement guidance on unlawful retaliation. California extended these changes through the newly introduced Fair Pay Act; commencing in 2016, the new legislation states that employers must justify pay differences between male and female employees undertaking similar work, regardless of job title. Additional amendments were made to the California Labor Code’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) to target rising civil litigation claims, which allege technical violations of itemized wage statements issued to employees. Now, employers have 33 days to address allegations before employees can seek PAGA penalties in a civil action.


ERISA litigation

Index of tables

  1. ERISA litigation
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

The team at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP provides ‘unmatched excellence and outstanding service through top-notch response times, advice, team depth and industry knowledge’. Allyson Ho and Randall Tracht, based in Dallas and Pittsburgh respectively, successfully represented the employer in M&G Polymers v Tackett, in which the Supreme Court found that conventional contract law principles (rather than a presumption that benefits continue for life) apply where the duration of retiree healthcare provision is not made clear in the plan documentation. Chicago-based Deborah Davidson is defending Computer Sciences Corporation in a class action dispute regarding the company’s ‘top hat’ plan. Brian Ortelere and Jeremy Blumenfeld, both in the Philadelphia office, and Chicago-based senior counsel Charles Jackson are also key contacts. Gregory Braden has retired from the firm, while Azeez Hayne departed the Philadelphia office to become the general counsel of Urban Outfitters.

Proskauer Rose LLP has ‘an impressive firm culture and the ability to assemble a team that works together seamlessly and cooperatively’. In New Orleans, Howard Shapiro, along with senior counsels Stacey Cerrone and Robert Rachal, is representing a panoply of religion-associated hospital systems in litigation regarding their pension plans’ status as ERISA-exempt ‘church plans’; the firm was successful in such matters for Trinity Health and Ascension Health. The team also undertakes stock drop litigation, such as representing JCPenney and its board in one of the first such disputes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fifth Third Bank v Dudenhoeffer. In other work highlights, New York-based Myron Rumeld is representing private equity firm Renco Group in a case relating to a transaction that removed Renco’s responsibility for a funding gap in one of its portfolio companies’ pension plans, but is subject to adverse allegations by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Rumeld and Shapiro jointly lead the team.

Centered around Washington DC, Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s ‘top-notch’ ERISA litigation team provides ‘great service, tremendous experience and expertise that works very well with the client’s in-house team’, making it ‘a go-to firm for “bet-the-company” cases’. Key mandates saw Paul Ondrasik (‘a terrific courtroom lawyer with a great demeanor’), Morgan Hodgson (‘an outstanding lawyer that clients have no reservations about using for their most complex and significant cases’) and Eric Serron of the firm’s Washington office representing BP in a class action case regarding an alleged breach of fiduciary duty relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. On the West Coast, Ed Gregory and Jason Levin represented the California State Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) in a class action suit regarding same-sex spouses’ access to the long-term care plan. Melanie Nussdorf and Gwen Renigar, who share leadership of the practice with Ondrasik, handle disputes with regulators.

Covington & Burling LLP has a strong practice in appellate ERISA litigation at the apex of the federal court system. Head of the appellate and Supreme Court litigation team Robert Long represented Fifth Third Bancorp in the agenda-setting Fifth Third Bancorp v Dudenhoeffer Supreme Court case. Jeffrey Huvelle, the leader of the ERISA litigation practice, successfully represented Verizon in a suit brought by plan participants following an $8.5bn de-risking arrangement with Prudential Financial, and in another dispute regarding the spin-off of Verizon’s yellow pages operation into Supermedia, which went bankrupt.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP regularly defends, among other claims, regulatory actions brought against pension funds and stock drops. Jason Schwartz and co-head of the firm’s labor and employment practice Eugene Scalia are representing Ford before the Sixth Circuit in Donati v Ford Motor Company, a dispute with the estate of a retiree, who sought to receive a larger sum that she was entitled to, based on a mistaken communication from the plan. William Kilberg is acting for the board of Kodak, as well as several of its senior executives, in a $34m stock drop case, while Geoffrey Sigler and Los Angeles’ Richard Doren successfully represented Microsoft in a class action dispute regarding compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Other than Doren, all named lawyers are located in Washington DC.

In Washington DC, single-office labor boutique Groom Law Group handles a range of regulatory matters regarding ERISA funds as well as class action litigation. Lars Golumbic and Sarah Adams defended two major religion-affiliated healthcare systems in class action disputes regarding their status as ‘church plans’ outside the aegis of ERISA. In the multi-employer plans field, Edward Meehan acted for a fund in a $100m withdrawal liability arbitration brought by an employer, while Mark Nielsen handles issues such as the Affordable Care Act’s connection to ERISA. Other clients include the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan, which of counsel Michael Junk represented in a dispute with players concerning retirement and disability benefits, Catholic Health Initiatives and M&T Bank.

At Miller & Chevalier Chartered, ‘clients know that they are getting the best possible effort, as does the other side’; the lawyers ‘put in the time and effort to learn the nuances of the client’s business and develop coherent and compelling arguments that can be quickly understood by a court not previously immersed in the arcane details’. A key part of the Washington DC-based practice revolves around novel health-related litigation, but the team also has experience in Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PGBC) regulatory issues relating to pension plans. Practice head Anthony Shelley, Timothy O’Toole and Michael Khalil, who ‘bring a special intelligence, patience and commitment to the table’, successfully defended Independence Blue Cross in a Seventh Circuit case regarding the eligibility of in-network healthcare providers for status as a beneficiary under ERISA. Theresa Gee joined the firm from O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s ERISA disputes experience includes representing high-profile financial institutions in stock drop cases and fiduciary duty litigation. Lewis Clayton and Robert Fleder acted for Asahi Tec Corporation in a dispute with the PBGC concerning alleged unfunded pension liabilities relating to a bankrupt former US subsidiary. Clayton also defeated a fiduciary claim against Citigroup alongside firm chair Brad Karp. In the healthcare space, Fleder is defending Dave & Buster’s in a novel claim regarding ERISA’s anti-discrimination provision and alleged circumvention of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)’s employer mandate. Other clients include JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Clayton and Karp jointly lead the practice, which is based in New York.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s ERISA litigators are ‘excellent: always available to assist and very knowledgeable’. The practice handles issues concerning multi-employer health and welfare plans, health coverage disputes and alleged breaches of fiduciary duty. Ward Kallstrom, Kevin Lesinski and Jonathan Braunstein of the California office defended the ILWU-PMA Welfare Plan and its trustees in a class action case. Further east Amanda Sonneborn, Ian Morrison, Ronald Kramer and Ada Dolph are key figures in the Chicago team. Other clients include the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Henkel and US Foods. Sonneborn and Morrison jointly lead the practice.

Sidley Austin LLP has a strong practice defending financial institutions in 401(k) class action litigation, as well as acting for health and life insurance providers. Eric Mattson and Joel Feldman, both based in the firm’s Chicago office, successfully defended a class action ERISA claim brought against Principal Life Insurance. A multi-office team, including Anne Rea and Chris Meyer in Chicago and Carter Phillips and David Carpenter from the Washington and Los Angeles offices respectively, continues to represent Bank of America in a decade-long multi-faceted class action battle regarding the plan’s ‘normal retirement age’. On the insurance side, Feldman and Mark Blocker, who is also based in Chicago, acted for The Hartford in a class action dispute brought by Family Dollar employees alleging that the insurer subsidized sale of life cover sold to the company by overcharging for cover sold directly to the employees.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s ‘exceptional ERISA litigators prevail in difficult cases’ concerning the securities and bankruptcy aspects of health and pensions disputes with ERISA issues, as well as stock drop cases. ‘First-rate’ practice head Nicholas Pappas and Gregory Silbert from the firm’s litigation department recently represented UnitedHealth Group in litigation surrounding a physical therapy provider seeking to use ERISA as a method to obtain payment from plan providers, and also in a class action dispute regarding allegations of underpayment. Jonathan Polkes, in the firm’s securities litigation team, acted for Marsh & McLennan Companies in a dispute with two former executives regarding the legality under ERISA of the termination of their benefits when they were dismissed after refusing to co-operate with an internal investigation. All named lawyers are based in New York.

Baker McKenzie LLP’s Douglas Darch and Rick Hammett, based in Chicago and Houston respectively, continue to represent Whirlpool in a long-running class action case involving 2,100 retirees arguing that their health benefits were unchangeable. On the West Coast, San Francisco-based practice head James Baker acts for businesses in disputes regarding supposed refusal of health coverage and high-stakes withdrawal liability arbitrations. Other areas of work include medical claim payment issues and disputes between pension plans.

Goodwin Procter LLP’s ‘extremely responsive’ team represents financial institutions in 401(k) ‘excessive fee’ litigation and alleged self-dealing disputes, as well as more conventional stock drop cases. James Fleckner, Alison Douglass and Kevin Martin of the firm’s Boston office, along with William Jay in Washington DC, successfully defended John Hancock Financial Services in a complex class action dispute, which reached the Third Circuit and concerned the fee structures of investment products sold to retirement plans and the seller’s (absence of) status as a fiduciary under ERISA. Other clients include BNY Mellon, which the firm is representing in the Eastman Kodak stock drop case, and Prudential Financial.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP provides ‘superior service and results’. Atlanta’s Todd Wozniak is defending Stiefel Laboratories, a subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline, in a claim brought by a former CFO alleging that the company breached its ERISA fiduciary duty and committed securities fraud after it purchased stock from him that was later valued significantly higher when the company was taken over. In Florham Park, Kristine Feher defends denial of benefits claims, and Robert Bernstein is ‘very responsive and practical’. Across the Hudson in New York, Jonathan Sulds, one of the firm’s global co-chairs of labor and employment, represents clients in withdrawal liability disputes, among other pension scheme matters.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s work includes representing corporates and financial institutions in withdrawal liability cases and 401(k) fee class action litigation. Chris Scheithauer, who divides his time between Irvine and Los Angeles, represented the Bank of America 401(k) plan in proceedings regarding the Countrywide Financial securities class action litigation; the matter was concluded by way of a settlement. Away from the West Coast, Chicago’s Bill Boies is acting for State Street Bank & Trust Company, which was the independent trustee of an ESOP, in a stock drop case regarding failure to sell General Motors shares before the company entered difficulties. Both lawyers mentioned also have expertise in healthcare-related ERISA disputes. Bobby Burchfield is now at King & Spalding LLP.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP represents 401(k) fiduciaries, as well as plans changing benefits and healthcare providers. Washington DC-based Brian Boyle and Shannon Barrett, along with Catalina Vergara from the firm’s Los Angeles office, are scheduled to represent three Transamerica companies in a class action dispute regarding fees and alleged self-dealing. Other welfare plan work saw Gregory Jacob successfully acting for NCR Corporation in a dispute regarding the substitution of actuarially-equivalent lump sums in favor of plan benefits. In the health field, Jacob and Boyle are representing UnitedHealth in a long-running class action case regarding the client’s methods of recovering overpayments made to healthcare providers. Other clients include Boeing and Fidelity Investments.

Alston & Bird LLP’s ERISA litigation team handles health and welfare plan disputes. The well-regarded Douglas Hinson, who splits his time between the firm’s Washington DC and Atlanta offices, leads the practice, which also includes Jonathan Rose in Washington DC, who was the chair of the American Bar Association’s Joint Committee on Employee Benefits. Past successes have seen the firm defending Dell against a class action dispute regarding an alleged breach of fiduciary duty as part of Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners’ purchase of the company, and representing the state of Florida in a challenge to modifications to public sector pensions.

Arent Fox LLP’s Washington DC-located ERISA litigators have expertise in healthcare matters, pension bankruptcies, PBGC issues, stock drop cases and withdrawal liability. Recent work highlights saw Carol Connor Cohen and Caroline Turner English defending Terex Corporation in a class action stock drop suit alleging tens of millions of dollars of damage to the plan, which was settled for a seven-figure sum. On the plaintiff side, the two also represent the Official Committee of Retired Employees of Eastman Kodak Company, which is responsible for a voluntary employees’ beneficiary association that administers benefits to retired former employees. Other clients include Monsanto and Caldwell Tanks.

Dentons’ multi-city ERISA practice represents regulators and health insurers, as well as employers in pension disputes. Alan Gilbert, David Cowart and Stephen O’Brien are acting for Hanover Insurance Group in a class action dispute regarding alleged underpayments of lump sums from the company’s pension plan. Key figures also include Douglas Scullion, who handles ERISA-related insurance claim denial litigation, and Fruman Jacobson and Carole Neville, who are acting for PBGC on matters surrounding ERISA plans connected with American Airlines’ 2011-13 bankruptcy. The firm’s long-running work for the Official Retirees Committee for the City of Detroit has been successfully brought to a close, following the city’s exit from bankruptcy. Other clients include Humana and S.C. Johnson.

Jenner & Block LLP’s Chicago-based team has expertise in defending stock drop and breach of fiduciary duty class action claims. Practice heads Craig Martin and Amanda Amert are defending Dow Chemical Company in a putative class action case, which alleges a breach of ERISA’s ‘anti-cutback’ rules. The duo also successfully represented General Dynamics in a fiduciary duty case. Other clients include AON and Nuveen Asset Management; the firm acted for the latter in a class action case surrounding alleged breach of fiduciary duty by investing the plan exclusively in equities.

Jones Day’s practice represents businesses in withdrawal liability arbitrations as well as litigation concerning issues such as healthcare benefits. In Cleveland, Stanley Weiner is representing Axiall Corporation and Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems Corporation in disputes surrounding eligibility for retiree medical benefits. Further east, Washington DC’s Evan Miller is representing The New York Times Company in an arbitration where the newspaper is challenging the legality of the method used to calculate withdrawal liability. Also in Washington DC, Donald Munro is acting for a coalition of railroads in a lawsuit regarding a Massachusetts sick leave law’s compatibility with ERISA. Other clients include Boeing.

King & Spalding LLP has a focus on defending energy and financial services companies in disputes with retirees. In Atlanta, David Tetrick is representing Peabody Energy Corporation in a stock drop case concerning ESOP programs in the beleaguered coal industry, and acting for SunTrust in a dispute regarding the bank’s own mutual funds’ role as part of the 401(k) plan’s roster of alternative investments. Washington DC-based Bobby Burchfield, who joined the firm from McDermott Will & Emery LLP, advises on retiree healthcare matters; his recent work highlights include appearing before the Sixth Circuit for Moen and CHN Industrial America in litigation in the wake of M&G Polymers concerning whether or not healthcare benefits are vested for life and unalterable.

Mayer Brown defends insurers, financial institutions and employers in health and welfare disputes. Chicago-based Nancy Ross, who is also active in retirement plan fiduciary duty matters, successfully represented Liberty Mutual, a provider of self-funded health plans, in litigation it brought against Vermont regarding a state law requiring disclosure of medical claims history from health insurers; the Second Circuit found that the legislation was pre-empted by ERISA. Washington DC-based Brian Netter represents businesses in ERISA fiduciary matters. Other clients include GEICO and Amgen.

Paul Hastings LLP defends corporates and pension funds in class action claims. New York’s Patrick Shea successfully represented IBM in a case relating to a transfer of health benefits to a Medicare health exchange. In Los Angeles, Stephen Harris was successful in an arbitration regarding severance benefits as part of a ‘top hat plan’ for Opus Bank. His work also includes defending cases brought by lone retirees. Other clients include Furniture Brands, which the firm advises on PBGC regulatory matters related to its bankruptcy. Harris, Shea and Mark Poerio collectively lead the global compensation, benefits and ERISA practice.


Employee benefits and executive compensation

Index of tables

  1. Employee benefits and executive compensation
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s New York-based team advises on employee benefits and executive compensation issues in large M&A deals, as well as ERISA regulatory and fiduciary matters. Michael Albano’s recent highlights include advising Actavis on its $70.5bn purchase of Allergan, acting for The Home Depot in its acquisition of Interline Brands, and assisting Google with the executive compensation challenges of its reorganization into a new holding company named Alphabet. Arthur Kohn advises McDonald’s on executive compensation, while Robert Raymond advises TPG and its portfolio companies on the application of ERISA to its investment funds. Counsel Mary Alcock is ‘excellent for ERISA work’, and advised Family Dollar on its purchase by Dollar Tree following interference by activist investors. Other clients include Medtronic and American Express.

Covington & Burling LLP’s Washington DC-based ‘excellent, cost-conscious and pragmatic’ team ‘provides outstanding service’ on the full range of employee health and welfare benefit matters. In 2015, Robert Newman and senior counsel Amy Moore worked on spin-offs and terminations of pension plans with nine-figure liabilities. Recent highlights also saw several partners advise the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) on proposed regulations affecting large employers’ employee benefit plans. Richard Shea and the ‘knowledgeable and practical’ Seth Safra are other key names at the firm, which also counts Textron, Verizon, Xerox and NFL as clients; Newman advises the latter on executive compensation, retirement plans and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s executive compensation practice advises corporates on the benefits and compensation aspects of high-value transactions such as M&A deals, IPOs and spin-offs. Edmond FitzGerald, who leads the executive compensation practice, is advising Aetna on its scheduled purchase of Humana, while Jeffrey Crandall advised Baker Hughes on its $38bn sale to Halliburton. Kyoko Takahashi Lin’s expertise includes advising restaurant sector clients on executive compensation, and she assisted churrascaria chain Fogo de Chão with matters surrounding its IPO. The firm also provides day-to-day benefits and compensation advice to Campbell Soup, Blackstone Strategic Partners and Stone Ridge Asset Management. The aforementioned attorneys are situated in New York, while Washington DC-based counsel Erin Cho advises hedge funds and private equity vehicles on ERISA fiduciary issues.

At Washington DC-based tax and benefits specialist Groom Law Group, the depth and breadth of expertise is ‘unparalleled in the niche area it operates in’; the ‘top-tier’ firm has a strong reputation for the finer points of employee health and pension plan management. Lawyers including Gary Ford (‘one of the pre-eminent attorneys in his field’), Elizabeth Dold and David Kaleda (‘very knowledgeable, responsive and efficient’) advise Fortune 500 companies on de-risking transactions; Lars Golumbic manages the plan funding and restructuring side of the practice; and Jon Breyfogle and Seth Perretta assist with employee healthcare plans. John McGuiness leads the executive compensation team, which also includes Jeff Witt, whose work straddles executive matters and qualified retirement plans. Clients include the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Target and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

Latham & Watkins LLP advises businesses and private equity funds on the benefits and compensation aspects of transactions. Key highlights saw Los Angeles’ James Barrall acting for Allergan during its sale of its generic pharmaceuticals business to Teva Pharmaceutical. On the East Coast, Washington DC-based David Della Rocca assisted The Carlyle Group with its purchase of Acosta Sales & Marketing, and New York-based Bradd Williamson advised Leonard Green & Partners as part of a syndicate that purchased Life Time Fitness, a deal which included challenges regarding ‘golden parachute’ and deferred compensation packages of executive pay. Other clients include Blackstone, KKR, Siemens, LiveNation, Riot Games and some individual executives. Los Angeles-based Michelle Carpenter and New York’s Lori Goodman and Austin Ozawa were made partner in January 2016.

At Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, the multi-office team straddles both executive compensation and employee benefits, advising on plan management issues including plan design changes and multi-employer plans as well as issues such as the ‘parachute tax’ and section 409A. In Pittsburgh, practice head Steven Spencer advises on matters including pension plan regulatory matters and plan designs, and Randall Tracht assisted the appellate and ERISA litigation teams in the seminal M&G Polymers Supreme Court case. On the healthcare front, Andy Anderson, Amy Pocino Kelly and Zaitun Poonja, located in Chicago, Philadelphia and Palo Alto respectively, advise on the PPACA. Recent personnel developments saw Jeanie Cogill and Barbara Klippert join the New York office, and Matthew Hawes and Michael Richman promoted to partner in Pittsburgh and Washington DC respectively.

Truly outstanding in every dimension’, Proskauer Rose LLP provides ‘responsiveness, value for money and great results’ in the pension plan, transactional and executive compensation fields. Practice head Paul Hamburger in Washington DC advised Becton, Dickinson & Company on the regulatory aspects of its 401(k) and health plans, as well as on its merger with CareFusion; Robert Projansky, Rory Albert and Ira Golub assist with a number of pension funds for entertainment industry retirees, including the Broadway League Staff Retirement Plan; Michael Sirkin deploys his ‘unmatched knowledge’ of executive compensation, advising companies and executives; and Ira Bogner and Golub are praised for handling ERISA Title I issues and multi-employer plans respectively. Ali Fawaz is now a partner. Unless otherwise stated, all named lawyers are located in New York.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has a focus on transactional work, much of which involves private equity purchasers. Brian Robbins, whose expertise includes fiduciary duties and plan terminations under ERISA, acted for DirecTV’s compensation committee in connection with AT&T’s $48.5bn purchase of the company. Greg Grogan advises private equity firms on portfolio transactions, and he recently handled a number of matters for Blackstone, including its purchase of GE Capital’s real estate assets, which involved employees located in several jurisdictions. Robbins and Grogan, along with Laurence Moss and David Rubinsky, who handle matters concerning multibillion-dollar M&A deals, are based in New York City. On the West Coast, Tristan Brown in Palo Alto advised Dell and Silver Lake Partners on the purchase of EMC. Other clients include Walgreens, Office Depot, Lorillard and KKR.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP advises corporates on the executive compensation aspects of transactions, as well as negotiating executive remuneration packages for companies and executives. In recent work highlights, Marc Trevino acted for Alcaltel-Lucent during its purchase of Nokia, and Matthew Friestedt, who leads the firm’s executive compensation M&A team, assisted AT&T with the purchase of DirecTV. Washington DC-based special counsel Rebecca Coccaro is also involved in many of the firm’s key deals. In the executive entries and exits space, Trevino advised William Erbey, the former chairman of Ocwen Financial, on his exit from the company, while Friestedt advised Joshua Sapan on his appointment as CEO of AMC Networks. The firm also assists BNY Mellon, Chrysler and Cablevision with day-to-day plan governance and regulation matters. Other than Coccaro, all named lawyers are located in New York.

New York’s Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz has a strong reputation for involvement in some of the world’s largest M&A transactions. The firm is also well known for handling the executive compensation and employee benefits challenges in IPOs, spin-offs and complex hostile takeovers. Michael Segal is leading the firm’s benefits contingent, advising Charter Communications on its merger with Time Warner Cable and purchase of Bright House Networks, which includes executive compensation and ERISA plan challenges. In other work highlights, Jeannemarie O’Brien assisted Pfizer with its proposed purchase of Allergan, and Andrea Wahlquist handled eBay’s spin-off of PayPal into another publicly-traded company, which included restructuring equity compensation arrangements and negotiating PayPal’s new CEO’s remuneration. The firm was also involved in Hewlett Packard’s split into two companies, with Adam Shapiro handling the benefits and compensation work.

Baker McKenzie LLP has ‘excellent international resources to draw on’ and the team is ‘always realistic in its expectations’. The firm advises on transactions and plan creations, including employee stock ownership programs. In Chicago Maura Ann McBreen, who leads the executive compensation and employee benefits practice, is advising Merck on its $9.5bn purchase of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a deal also involving Aimee Soodan, who has ‘a wonderful way of simplifying complex issues for lay clients’. San Francisco’s Valerie Diamond, who leads the global equity services team, advises on the equity award aspects of complex international company mergers; Brian Wydajewski in Chicago is ‘able to support various transactions and activities’; and Barbara Klementz in San Francisco has ‘global experience and extensive knowledge’. Richard Reilly, a leading lawyer since 2012, passed away in October 2015.

New York’s Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP’s team focuses on the compensation and benefits aspects of corporate matters such as M&A deals, IPOs and joint ventures. Eric Hilfers advised Cigna on its sale to Anthem and Precision Castparts on its sale to Berkshire Hathaway, and Jennifer Conway assisted Naspers and IBM with several joint ventures and acquisitions respectively. The firm also advises businesses on the design and implementation of equity compensation programs, as well as individual senior executives on compensation. Other clients include HJ Heinz, AmerisourceBergen and AGL Resources. Jonathan Katz was made partner in January 2016.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP provides ‘sound and practical’ advice on transfers of large numbers of employees, executive compensation following large M&A deals, and plan management matters. Practice head Lawrence Cagney, who ‘is held in high regard on all matters relating to executive compensation’, is advising Verizon on the sale of its operations in three states, which includes the transfer of employee benefit responsibilities. Elizabeth Pagel Serebransky acted for Standard General in its acquisition of over 1,700 stores from bankrupt retailer RadioShack. In other recent work, Jonathan Lewis is advising Prudential Financial on de-risking transactions with Motorola Solutions and Kimberly-Clark, the latter mandate is reducing the pension liabilities of the leading provider of hygiene and safety solutions by $2.5bn. Meir Katz, who handles transactional matters, was made partner in July 2015. All named lawyers are all located in New York.

For some, Dechert LLP is ‘a one-stop shop for asset management companies’ with ERISA issues. However, the firm also assists corporates with transaction-related employment issues and executive compensation negotiation. Andrew Oringer, who is based in the New York office, advises a number of investment funds and financial institutions on the compatibility of their products with ERISA. In Philadelphia, David Jones assisted OCI Company with the employee benefits and executive compensation aspects of its sale of OCI Resources to a subsidiary of Ciner Group, which included the transfer of two underfunded defined benefit plans and severance agreements for some of the management staff. Boston-based ‘go-to ERISA practitioner’ Susan Camillo advises Golub Capital on the suitability of collateralized loan obligations as ERISA plan assets. Oringer and Jones share leadership of the practice.

Executive compensation aspects of high-value transactions sit at the core of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s ‘excellent’ employee benefits and executive compensation workload. Donald Carleen is ‘at the top of his game’; in 2015 he advised International Rectifier Corporation on the transformation of change of control severance agreements to retention rewards as the company was sold to Infineon Technologies. His expertise also includes ERISA fiduciary duty matters. In the employee benefits space, Amy Blackman advised CVS on the issues relating to its $1.9bn acquisition of Target’s pharmacies. In the regulatory field, Jeffrey Ross advises financial institutions on the eligibility to be a qualified professional asset manager under ERISA. All named lawyers are located in New York.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s benefits team focuses on corporate-related work involving M&A, spin-offs and restructurings. Work highlights included Chicago’s Vicki Hood advising Zebra Technologies on its purchase of Motorola Solutions’ inventory control business, and practice head Scott Price assisting Burger King Worldwide with the executive compensation aspects of its merger with Tim Hortons, a deal which saw the merged company locate its headquarters in Ontario. Price is located in the New York office, which added Matthew Shiels from Morrison & Foerster LLP. On the private equity side, Chicago-based Laura Bader advised Landmark Partners on creating its seventh fund, where investors include a number of ERISA-regulated and public sector pension plans.

The team at McDermott Will & Emery LLP has ‘particular depth and breadth of knowledge’ when it comes to managing employee benefits plans and crafting executive compensation packages. Practice head David Rogers and Ruth Wimer - both based in Washington DC - are advising MasterCard on a review of its pension plans, which includes regulatory issues involving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Rogers and the newly promoted Brian Benko (also based in Washington DC) assisted Intelsat with pension structuring, 401(k) plans and employee healthcare issues. Boston-based Andrew Liazos provides ‘outstanding guidance and knowledge in the area of executive compensation while setting a high bar for client experience and service’; he advises large companies and individual executives, including the CEO of a large publicly held company. In Chicago, Nancy Gerrie and Susan Nash assist technology sector clients with their benefits programs.

Washington DC’s Miller & Chevalier Chartered has a notable presence in this area, complemented by the firm’s tax and white-collar crime departments; it has a strong focus on sensitive regulatory matters involving the IRS, Department of Labor and PBGC, as well as handling internal investigations. In the pensions space, the firm has expertise in bankruptcies and de-risking transactions, and in the healthcare context, it handles Affordable Care Act issues. Marianna Dyson’s team includes Frederick Oliphant, recommended for matters including executive compensation and employee stock ownership programs, and Elizabeth Drake, who has de-risking and 401(k) plan expertise. Theresa Gee is a new lateral hire from O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s New York-based practice advises on the employee benefit and executive compensation aspects of corporate transactions and bankruptcies; the firm is also ‘very good in the ERISA area’. Recent work saw the ‘very intelligent’ Lewis Clayton advising Caesars Entertainment on matters relating to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and practice head Robert Fleder assisting Oak Hill Capital Partners with its purchase of Berlin Packaging. The latter also advises investment managers on ERISA fiduciary duty matters. Other highlights include Andrew Gaines’ work for Time Warner Cable on its merger with Charter Communications, and Lawrence Witdorchic’s advice to Automated Data Processing regarding its spin-off of CDK Global.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s executive compensation and benefits practice is centered around high-value transactions. In New York, Neil Leff advised the independent members of Time Warner Cable’s board on the executive compensation aspects of its acquisition by Charter Communications, and practice head Regina Olshan assisted Pinnacle Entertainment with the $4.8bn sale of the majority of its real estate assets to Gaming and Leisure Properties, following an unsolicited bid. On the West Coast, Palo Alto-based Joseph Yaffe advised American Apparel on the executive compensation and benefits issues regarding the suspension and subsequent dismissal of Dov Charney, the company’s founder and former CEO, following much-publicized accusations of sexual harassment. Yaffe’s clients also include a range of high-profile Silicon Valley and public sector executives, who he advises on securities law and compensation issues.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s benefits and compensation practice is focused on matters such as pension plan management, Department of Labor investigations and ERISA fiduciary standards. Melanie Nussdorf handles the Department of Labor and SEC regulatory side of pensions, and is advising Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs on obtaining prohibited transaction exemption following the banks’ criminal convictions, allowing the institutions to manage ERISA assets. Other key lawyers include Edward Mackiewicz, formerly general counsel of the PBGC, and practice head Paul Ondrasik, who handles contentious and non-contentious matters. Los Angeles-based Don Wellington, the only employee benefits and executive compensation partner located outside Washington DC, advised CalPERS on obtaining an IRS determination letter for its tax-qualified status.

The team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP provides ‘timely, and more importantly, succinct and practical advice in complex areas such as non-qualified deferred compensation and the taxation intricacies of executive compensation’. The ‘strong team, with great domain knowledge’ handles transaction-related matters, often with a private equity slant, and bankruptcies. Recommended partners include Paul Wessel, who advised DirecTV on its $67.1bn sale to AT&T, Amy Rubin, who acted for Facebook on its purchase of WhatsApp, and the ‘outstanding’ Michael Nissan, who assisted Centerbridge Partners with its purchase of KIK Custom Products. Nissan and associate Paula Han ‘have exceptional knowledge and experience, as well as a commitment to client service; both are responsive whenever needed’. The team, which is based in New York, also advises Berkshire Partners, General Electric and Kinder Morgan.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s multi-office team handles a range of issues regarding the management of employee benefits and welfare plans. Expertise also spans regulatory investigations by the IRS, Department of Labor and PBGC, and deferred compensation. Recommended partners include Silicon Valley-based Magan Ray, who advises on 401(k) plans, PPACA issues and welfare plan creation and management, and Miami-based Steven Lapidus, who has expertise in ERISA’s fiduciary requirements. Handling pensions regulation matters, Leslie Klein divides his time between Phoenix and Chicago, and leads the practice alongside Jeffrey Mamorsky in New York. Clients include Republic Services, Western Digital, Xilinx and Google, which the firm has acted for in this area for over a decade.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s practice focuses on the benefits and compensation aspects of deals, often international, but the firm also handles plan design and compliance work. Margaret de Lisser advised Home Properties on plan issues including ‘cashing out’ of equity, ‘golden parachutes’ and the tax deductions of the company’s sale to Lone Star Funds. In other recent work, Carin Carithers advised a consortium of German automobile manufacturers on the purchase of Nokia’s digital mapping operation HERE, Kurt Lawson is advising Vanderbilt University on spinning-off Vanderbilt Medical Center, and Martha Steinman assisted WSP Global with its purchase of Parsons Brinckerhoff from Balfour Beatty. Other than Steinman, who is based in New York, all named lawyers are based in Washington DC. Steinman and de Lisser lead the practice.

Jones Day provides ‘excellent’ advice on a range of employee compensation matters ranging from executive compensation to welfare plans. Evan Miller and Kevin Noble, both located in Washington DC, continue to advise Motorola Solutions on a $4.2bn pension de-risking transaction with Prudential Financial. Daniel Hagen, who is based in New York, is advising Reynolds Tobacco on its purchase of Lorillard. In Cleveland, Patricia Eschbach-Hall advised Timken on spinning-off its steel business, and Procter & Gamble on selling its non-European pet care business to Mars. Miller and Hagen are co-chairs of the practice, which also acts for SAP, the City of Detroit and the Eastman Chemical Company.

Morrison & Foerster LLP is noted for advising technology sector clients on the executive compensation aspects of high-value transactions. Recent work includes advising SoftBank on the executive compensation elements of its role in a $1bn preferred offering of stock in peer-to-peer lending platform SoFi. The firm also advised Saba Software on its $400m sale to Vector Capital and ON Semiconductor on its purchase of Fairchild Semiconductor. Away from the technology sector, the firm has a strong practice in private equity acquisitions; New York-based Domnick Bozzetti advised Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners on its purchase of Holtwood for $860m. San Francisco’s Paul Borden, who advises on 401(k) plans, pension schemes and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), is also a key contact. Michael Frank joined Sidley Austin LLP

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP provides ‘a high-level service’ to technology clients grappling employee benefits issues such as ESOPs and health plans, as well as executive compensation. In San Francisco, ‘incredibly responsive’ practice head Jonathan Ocker ‘cuts to the chase in complex issues’; he advised Vice Media on establishing a restricted stock unit equity program, and is also active handling executive compensation matters and PPACA compliance. Stephen Venuto and Christine McCarthy of the firm’s technology companies group, both based in the firm’s Menlo Park office, advised Pinterest on an unusual stock options program, which allows employees to exercise the option up to seven years after leaving the company. On an international level, New York-based Laura Becking advises Facebook on its equity compensation program outside the US.

Paul Hastings LLP advises a range of well-known clients on their benefits plans and executive compensation arrangements. Washington DC’s Mark Poerio advised The Economist on a change of leadership of the 401(k) plan committee and compliance issues. Eric Keller, also in Washington DC, is outside benefits counsel for Sony Corporation of America. His deal work includes advising Putnam Holding Company on the sale of a $1bn portfolio of residential properties in New York without encountering pension plan withdrawal liability. Peorio jointly leads the practice alongside New York’s Lawrence Hass, who has ERISA fiduciary expertise, and plan designer Stephen Harris, who is located in Los Angeles.

In addition to a strong practice advising on equity plans, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP’s expertise includes executive compensation and ERISA fiduciary issues. Practice head Susan Serota advises Louis Berger Group on the structure of executive compensation arrangements. She also handles international tax issues, ERISA plan design and health plan matters. Peter Hunt’s transactional highlights in 2015 include advising Business Insider, a longstanding client for equity compensation matters, on the executive compensation aspects of its merger with a subsidiary of Axel Springer. Other clients include Ikanos Communications and Cervalis Holdings. Both named lawyers are located in New York. Scott Landau left the firm to join Winston & Strawn LLP.

Alongside a strong ERISA practice, Ropes & Gray LLP has a notable transactional workload. William Jewett advised Cubist Pharmaceuticals on its sale to Merck, while Loretta Richard assisted Par Pharmaceutical Holdings with its sale to Endo International. In the private equity space, Richard advised Bain Capital and Blackstone Group on the sale of some of The Weather Company’s assets to IBM, and Renata Ferrari assisted Berkshire Partners with its purchase of Fibertech Networks. Peter Rosenberg acts for a number of well-known businesses on ERISA Title I compliance matters. Jennifer Rikoski, whose expertise includes sports industry executive compensation, was made partner in November 2015. All named lawyers are based in Boston.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s expertise includes plan drafting, transaction-related matters, governance issues and Affordable Care Act matters. In the New York office, Howard Pianko advises OOCL, The Hertz Company and College Board on their plan structures, while Randell Montellaro acts for Northwell Health (formerly known as the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System) on integrating the retirement and welfare systems of hospitals and healthcare practices it has acquired. Practice head Robert Flanagan, who is based in the Chicago office, handles executive compensation, ERISA regulation and multi-employer plan matters.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s employee benefits team combines work for corporates in international transactions with executive compensation, plan design and construction and ERISA advice for private equity funds. Kenneth Laverriere advises investment funds on plan asset regulation and fiduciaries on their responsibilities. John Cannon handles a range of issues such as bankruptcy and transaction-related matters, while Linda Rappaport’s expertise includes the design and negotiation of executive compensation programs. Doreen Lilienfeld leads the team and advised Dow Chemical Company on the sale of its stake in MEGlobal to EQUATE. The firm’s clients have included Vivendi and John Henry (the primary owner of the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club and the Boston Globe). All four partners mentioned are based in New York.

Sidley Austin LLP’s Chicago-based practice is based around a core of executive compensation, transactional and ERISA plan management matters. Beth Dickstein and senior counsel Robert Ferencz act for the AT&T pension plan as outside ERISA fiduciary and investment counsel, which includes advising on numerous ongoing matters. Transactional highlights saw Matthew Johnson and Nicholas Turner advising eBay and PayPal on the employee benefits aspects of eBay’s spin-off of PayPal into a separate company. Johnson also advised International Game Technology on its purchase by GTECH. Other clients include the American Bar Association Retirement Funds, which Dickstein and Ferencz assisted with a change in service providers, and Cummins, which Eileen Lu acts for in relation to employee benefits issues raised by its acquisition of many of distributors across North America.

The team at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is ‘superb at working through very difficult and complex tax issues that threaten benefit plans’. Vanessa Scott and ‘class-act’ Alice Murtos are advising The Aerospace Corporation on ERISA plan matters including 403(b) schemes, pensions and health benefits. Scott is also primary external counsel to the HR Policy Institution and advises a major energy company on its health plans. On the executive compensation front, Adam Cohen, who is ‘extremely valued by all who work with him’, has expertise in the ‘golden parachute’ excise tax and deferred compensation plans. Practice head Mark Smith advises on changes to the fiduciary rule. Aside from Murtos, who is based in Atlanta, the other named lawyers are in Washington DC.

In addition to transactional work, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s New York-based practice advises financial institutions on their responsibilities under ERISA. New hire Peter Haller is advising Credit Suisse (whose in-house ERISA legal function he joined from) on the potential implications of the Department of Labor’s planned change to the fiduciary rule. In the transactional space, Michael Katz and Jordan Messinger advised HCC Insurance Holdings on the executive compensation aspects of its purchase by Tokio Marine Holdings, including retention plans and the tax implications of ‘golden parachutes’. All the mentioned partners have advised Insight Venture Partners and its portfolio companies on transactions and day-to-day matters including equity-based compensation and retirement plans. Other clients include Aberdeen Asset Management and RenaissanceRe.

The team at Winston & Strawn LLPprovides an excellent service in the employee benefits area’, with expertise in incentive schemes, ESOPs and securities matters. Michael Falk, an ‘experienced employee benefits attorney who understands clients with no-nonsense approaches’, handles transactions for private equity funds including Sycamore Partners and Water Street Partners, while Michael Melbinger provides advice to Fortune 50 companies on issues relating to stock incentive schemes and 401(k) plans. In New York, Scott Landau joined from the firm from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP in March 2015, his transactional work highlights included assisting TreeHouse Foods with its purchase of ConAgra. Other clients include Cantor Fitzgerald and Nuveen Investments.

Baker Botts L.L.P. advises on a range of employee benefits issues and executive compensation matters, with a strong focus on work relating to the energy and oil industries. Rob Fowler, who advises on ERISA regulatory matters and employee benefit plan design, assisted Schlumberger on issues relating to its $15bn purchase of Cameron International Corporation. The firm also advised Tallgrass Energy on its $1.2bn IPO, with Mark Bodron leading on the compensation and benefits side. Gail Stewart leads the practice, and has expertise in executive compensation schemes, pension plans and ESOPs. Other than David Schiller, who is based in Dallas, the four partners in the team are located in Houston.

Unsurprisingly for a firm with a strong reputation for oil and gas work, the core of Bracewell LLP’s employee benefits practice pivots around a large workload of energy transactions, including purchases of companies in difficulty. Practice head Bruce Jocz advised Noble Energy on its purchase of Rosetta Resources, while Scott Sanders assisted Kinder Morgan with negotiating the benefits provision and implementing the transition of benefits with regards to its purchase of Hiland Partners. The firm also has a track record of handling deals in the financial services sector; Sanders advised Veritex Holdings on its purchase of IBT Bancorp. Both Jocz and Sanders are located in Houston. Other clients include Howard Energy Partners and BancorpSouth.

The ‘top-notch practice’ at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is ‘deeply respected for its marketplace know-how’ that is ‘clearly at the pinnacle of the field when it comes to pension plan investments in financial products’. ‘Lawyers don’t get much better’ than James Frazier and Washington DC-based senior counsel Robert Davis, who are advising broker-dealers and banks on ensuring financial products are suitable for ERISA-regulated investors. Outside the regulatory space, practice head and executive compensation specialist Steven Eckhaus advised the Big Ten Conference’s compensation committee on extending the contract of its commissioner, Jim Delany. In the M&A field, special counsel Shane Stroud advised Salix Pharmaceuticals on its sale to Valeant. Unless otherwise stated, all named lawyers are based in New York.

The Washington DC-based team at Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered provides ‘unparalleled high-level service with respect to responsiveness, knowledge and efficiency’. The firm advises employers on benefits issues including deferred compensation and ERISA pension plans, and is noted for nonprofits. Joanne Youn and Richard Skillman, who has ‘extremely high levels of experience and knowledge’, assist Lakewood Church with its deferred compensation arrangements, and advise the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on benefit plan issues, including relations with the IRS regarding the planned ‘Cadillac Tax’. In other work highlights, Patricia Lewis and Youn advised SKF USA on plan design and implementation.

At DLA Piper LLP (US), the ‘seasoned and service-oriented’ team advises on transactions, plan management and executive appointments. In Chicago, Anne Pachiarek advises on multi-billion transactions, some of which involve private equity and international buyers, and Ian Kopelman has ‘strategic and specific knowledge of qualified plans’. Other noteworthy lawyers include San Francisco’s Mark Boxer, who advises on IRS regulatory matters, and Palo Alto’s Cisco Palao-Ricketts, who is a new hire from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Clients include a number of life sciences and technology companies.

Dentons’ multi-office team has expertise in a range of ERISA plan and executive compensation matters. In Chicago, Pamela Baker advised Hewlett-Packard’s compensation committee on executive compensation challenges relating to the company’s demerger into Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc; she also has expertise in pension plan de-riskings and equity plans. Daniel Lange, who joined the Chicago office in October 2015 from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, advises individual C-suite executives. In Washington DC, Michael Maryn assists McDonald’s with its retirement plans and non-qualified deferred compensation schemes, including advising on its employee stock ownership plan. Martin Moderson, who leads the practice from Kansas City, handles issues including plan terminations and church plan statuses.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP handles a range of compensation and benefits matters. In Washington DC, William Kilberg and Michael Collins act for the NFL Players Association in collective bargaining with the National Football League over benefits matters. On the transactional front, Collins advised Towers Watson on its purchase by Willis Group. In Palo Alto, Stephen Fackler assists a number of technology companies with structuring their stock compensation and executive plans; his clients include AOL, which he advised on a ‘phantom stock’ plan. Also on the West Coast, matters relating to SEC disclosure rules and executive compensation are handled by Sean Feller of the Los Angeles office; his clients include MGM Resorts International.

Goodwin Procter LLP’s ERISA and executive compensation practice provides ‘excellent service’, and counts Healthcare System and Teva Pharmaceuticals among its clients. In addition to work on corporate transactions, the firm provides advice on issues such as retirement plans, executive compensation and ERISA fiduciary matters. Marian Tse is ‘an incredible resource with wonderful in-depth knowledge of both executive compensation and employee benefits’; she advised Paramount Group on the preparation of employment agreements, equity grants and an executive severance plan in connection with a $2.6bn IPO of a REIT. Practice head Scott Webster advised Manulife on its purchase of New York Life’s retirement plan business. With the exception of Lynda Galligan in Menlo Park, who advised Lynda.com on its sale to LinkedIn, the team is located in Boston.

Tax and employee benefits boutique Ivins, Phillips & Barker advises on employee health and welfare plan matters such as 401(k) plans, health plan design and compliance and employee stock ownership plans. Rosina Barker is well regarded by peers, and advises on pension de-riskings, executive compensation packages and PPACA compliance. While the vast majority of the firm is in Washington DC, it also has a satellite office in Los Angeles, where Steven Witmer has expertise in the employee benefits issues involved in corporate transactions. Clients have included Bayer, FedEx and Saudi Aramco.

Mayer Brown handles a range of non-M&A-related health and welfare plan matters, including ERISA fiduciary issues and executive compensation negotiations. The team is led by Maureen Gorman in Palo Alto, who has expertise in large pension de-riskings, retiree health plans and employee stock ownership programs. Other names to note include George Craven, who handles pension tax and securities issues, and Lennine Occhino and James Williams, who advised a large financial institution on structuring and creating a 401(k) plan. Clients include CIBC World Markets Corporation, Caterpillar and Tenneco. Unless otherwise stated, all named lawyers are located in Chicago, which is also the home of ERISA litigator Nancy Ross.

Thompson Hine LLP’s ‘very personable, professional, efficient and practical’ team combines ‘experts in the areas of ERISA, taxation, non-qualified deferred compensation and executive compensation’. Laura Ryan (‘an outstanding lawyer whose greatest strength is understanding the business case as well as the legal requirements’) and Kim Wilcoxon assisted Fifth Third Bank with a restructuring of its 401(k) plan and group health scheme. Karen Youngstrom advised Lincoln Electric’s fiduciary annuity committee on matters relating to a pension de-risking. In the executive compensation field, Shane Starkey is ‘incredibly smart - his business and financial acumen are well beyond his peers’. Other than Youngstrom, who is based in Cleveland, all named lawyers are in Cincinnati.

Vedder Price’s practice advises on executive compensation issues, for both individual executives and their employers, and ERISA plan designs. Thomas Desmond acted for the CEO and senior leadership of StanCorp Financial Group during negotiations regarding the company’s purchase by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company. In addition to work for Fortune 500 C-suite executives, Kelly Starr advised Brian Kibby, CEO of MV Transportation, on his compensation arrangements. In the employee benefits field, Thomas Hancuch’s expertise includes employee benefit plan design, high-stakes de-risking transactions and PPACA compliance. The firm’s clients also include Novartis, ArcelorMittal USA and the Hershey Company. All named lawyers are based in Chicago, where Desmond and Starr jointly lead the department.

Vinson & Elkins LLP acts for strong roster of energy clients on executive compensation and benefits matters, with a particular focus on transaction-related issues. In Dallas, David D’Alessandro advised Eagle Rock Energy Partners on its sale to Vanguard Natural Resources, while Shane Tucker assisted Targa Natural Resources with its purchase of Atlas Pipeline Partners. Outside the energy sector, D’Alessandro advised Medical Action Industries on its $207m sale to Owens & Minor. Tucker also has experience in designing employee benefits plans, including 401(k) plans, ESOPs and cafeteria plans. George Gerachis in Houston advises on tax-related issues and shares leadership of the executive compensation and benefits practice with D’Alessandro. In recent personnel developments, Sheri Dillon departed for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Houston’s Stephen Jacobson was made partner.

Arent Fox LLP handles transaction-related matters and the creation of benefit packages. Practice head Quana Jew and Bill Charyk are key names to note; the former assists a number of fashion industry clients - including DVG Studio, Hugo Boss and Lacoste - with developing benefit packages for key personnel, and the latter advises a range of companies on deferred benefit plans and Catholic Charities USA on the healthcare benefits implications of Obergefell v Hodges. Together, they advise Monsanto and Choice Hotels on their benefit plans.

Baker & Hostetler LLP’s workload includes transaction-related employee benefits matters as well as day-to-day plan management. Columbus-based Georgeanne Peters advised Red Lobster, a new client and recently spun-off from Darden Restaurants, on benefit plans including 401(k) schemes for general employees and executive compensation. In Cleveland, John McGowan’s expertise includes multi-employer plans and the PPACA. Raymond Malone (also in Cleveland) advises on the benefits and compensation aspects of transactions, ERISA plan terminations and executive compensation. Malone and Peters jointly lead the practice.

Clifford Chance advises on the employee benefits and executive compensation aspects of major transactions, often working alongside other offices in the firm’s global network. Practice head Howard Adler, who has equity-based compensation expertise, and ERISA counsel Robert Stone advised Geodis on its purchase of Ozburn-Hessey Logistics from a private equity firm. The team also advises private equity clients; Stone advised Long Wharf Real Estate Partners on matters relating to the formation of its fifth fund. Other clients include GoldenTree Asset Management and the Hearst Corporation. Both lawyers mentioned are based in New York.

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. has a strong practice handling qualified health and welfare plans, as well as deferred compensation and transaction-related work. Practice head Joan Disler, who is based in Newark, advises BlackRock on issues such as the management of qualified benefit plans, PPACA and plan governance. In New York, Michelle Capezza has expertise in ERISA fiduciary matters, section 409A compliance for long-term incentive plans and healthcare compliance. Clients also include Panasonic, Travelport and UniCredit.

Multi-office labor specialist Fisher & Phillips’ employee benefits practice, led by Irvine-based Sheldon Blumling, advises businesses on matters relating to qualified plans, ESOPs and corporate transactions. Blumling’s expertise includes employee health cover and M&A-related matters. Other key contacts include Atlanta’s Robert Christenson, who advises on multi-employer plans, and Sandra Feingerts in New Orleans, who is an ERISA specialist.

Jenner & Block LLP’s Chicago-based three-partner team advises a range of regional and national clients on day-to-day and transactional employee benefits matters. Tony Ling has experience in plan termination issues and corporate transactions, while practice head Matthew Renaud’s expertise includes equity plans for executives, ERISA fiduciary responsibilities and the PPACA. Raymond Sinnappan advises private equity investors on ERISA compliance. The team is also recommended for de-risking transactions and ERISA fiduciary duties.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. advises C-suite executives on compensation and businesses on their ERISA plans. Key contacts include David Lagasse, who advised the CEEO and COO of Business Insider on the company’s acquisition by Axel Springer, and Tyrone Thomas, who acts for several university presidents as well as the institutions themselves. Practice head Alden Bianchi has expertise in executive compensation work, as well as advising employers on ERISA fiduciary matters, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and PPACA matters. Other clients include a number of staffing agencies. The three named lawyers are based in New York, Washington DC and Boston respectively.

Clients view Chicago’s Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP as like ‘an extension of their internal team’. Patricia Cain, who leads the practice, is ‘very level-headed and has a good balance between interpreting the law and understanding clients’ business needs; she always gets to positive and workable solutions’. Her workload includes benefit plan integration following transactions, group health plan compliance with the PPACA and executive compensation. Jeff Bakker’s expertise includes ERISA compliance, deferred compensation plans and the PPACA’s employer mandate. Associate Stephanie Vasconcellos left for Mayer Brown.

Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren SC’s ‘very deep bench of lawyers are on top of the trends and developments’. The Wisconsin-centered firm advises a coast-to-coast roster of public-sector clients; ‘great listener’ Steven Huff provides fiduciary advice to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Milwaukee County Pension Board and Retirement System. Huff also advises private-sector clients including Schreiber Foods on 401(k) and employee stock ownership plans. Denise Goergen has expertise in pension restructures and de-risking transactions. Other clients include the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. Both named lawyers are based in Milwaukee.

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP’s practice head Steven Rabitz is ‘responsive, thoughtful and understanding of his clients - since he has worked on Wall Street he understands the expectations’. His workload includes advising the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association on a comment letter regarding the planned fiduciary rule change. The firm is also noted for ensuring the ERISA capability of financial products designed for sale to pension funds and structuring executive compensation packages. It acts for a number of high-profile financial services clients. Marissa Holob made partner in January 2016.

Sullivan & Worcester LLP has ‘significant depth in areas such as ERISA, tax qualification and compliance’. David Guadagnoli, whose expertise includes the design of deferred compensation plans, the prohibited transaction rules and executive compensation, is ‘a go-to lawyer - he never forgets anything the clients tell or ask of him and picks up on the details other would overlook’. Amy Sheridan, who advises on 409A and PPACA compliance ‘impresses with her attention to detail’ and ‘spends time developing strong client relationships’. Both are based in Boston.

Venable LLPprovides a very high level of service: the large and diverse team adds value’. Thora Johnson’s expertise includes HIPAA compliance and PPACA matters; Kenneth Hoffman advises on multi-employer plans and executive compensation; the ‘bright, rigorous and lucid’ Harry Atlas is ‘completely clear in his thinking’ and has expertise in retirement plans, executive compensation and transaction-related matters. In addition to acting for a strong roster of private-sector clients, this is a ‘go-to team for non-profits for help with the entire array of benefits issues’. Johnson and Atlas are based in Baltimore, Hoffman in Washington DC.

White & Case LLP has a strong healthcare transactional practice, where Henrik Patel advised Anthem on succession planning, equity awards and employee retention regarding its planned $54bn hostile purchase of Cigna. Private equity clients also form a significant part of the roster; Patel assisted CVC Capital Partners with management employment agreements following its purchase of a stake in Alvogen. Victoria Rosamond, a counsel who advises on ERISA and qualified plans issues, joined the firm from Linklaters LLP, while Mark Hamilton left the firm to join Danziger & Markhoff LLP Attorneys at Law. All named lawyers are located in New York.

WilmerHale’s practice head Kimberly Wethly is a ‘top-quality attorney; she knows the answers to the tricky questions off the top of her head’. Amy Null is a key contact for qualified plan matters, including ERISA regulation and health plans. Transactional highlights saw Mark Borden and Scott Kilgore advising Staples on its proposed merger with Office Depot. Other than Kilgore, who is based in Washington DC, all named lawyers are based in Boston.


Immigration

Index of tables

  1. Immigration
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1
    • David Berry - Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
    • Scott Bettridge - Fox Rothschild LLP
    • Daryl Buffenstein - Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy
    • Susan Cohen - Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
    • Charles Foster - Foster LLP
    • Austin Fragomen - Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy
    • Jeremy Fudge - Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
    • David Grunblatt - Proskauer Rose LLP
    • Cynthia Lange - Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy
    • Cyrus Mehta - Cyrus D Mehta & Associates
    • Lynden Melmed - Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
    • Betsy Morgan - Baker McKenzie LLP
    • Angelo Paparelli - Seyfarth Shaw LLP
    • Eleanor Pelta - Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
    • Gordon Quan - Quan Law Group, PLLC
    • Laura Reiff - Greenberg Traurig, LLP
    • Theodore Ruthizer - Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
    • Denyse Sabagh - Duane Morris LLP
    • Elizabeth Stern - Mayer Brown

Specialist immigration firm Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP provides ‘excellent service in all areas - knowledge, response time, advice, value and all-round service to employees’. One of the world’s largest firms dedicated solely to corporate immigration, it has a total of 16 US partners, led by Dallas-based managing partner Jeremy Fudge. The department has particular experience of representing clients in the oil and gas sector - the Houston office was engaged as the sole strategic immigration partner to a leading oil and gas exploration and production company and the practice also handles all North American work for the largest drilling rig contractor in Canada. Founding partner David Berry in San Francisco is responsible for managing a new client relationship with one of the world’s leading aerospace companies and developing a management structure to support its ongoing programs. Another name to note is Lynden Melmed, a former Citizenship and Immigration Services Chief Counsel at the Department of Homeland Security who splits his time between Washington DC and the firm’s McLean office. Delya Ghosh and Larry Drumm, both situated in San Francisco, were promoted to the partnership.

Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy has developed into a market-leading global immigration law firm with 40 offices in 20 countries. New York-based Austin Fragomen - who has testified before Congress on immigration matters - is one of the firm’s heavyweight figures, along with Daryl Buffenstein in Atlanta and San Francisco-based Cynthia Lange, who leads the hi-tech practice. The group provides a full scope of immigration services, which includes handling business visitor visas, investor applications, governmental relations, and export control advice. Michael Patrick in New York has a focus on risk management of global immigration programs, as well as due diligence for corporate restructuring and policy development. The Boston office is managed by Scott FitzGerald, who is very involved in the firm’s India-focused practice; Michael Turansick heads the Chicago office and Andrew Greenfield is managing partner of the Washington DC office. Bo Cooper, also based in Washington DC, is another notable name along with Matawan-based Lance Kaplan. Steven Ladik, who divides his time between Dallas and Houston, is a well-respected name for sports immigration, acting for athletes, teams and leagues.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s ‘excellent’ business immigration group is ‘extremely responsive, competent and efficient’, and conveys ‘a feeling of true partnership’. James King and Russell Swapp co-chair the practice, which prides itself on being tech-savvy: partners invest significant time and resources developing systems and databases that deliver immigration management programs to clients. King manages the immigration team in Atlanta and advises international clients on issues including Form I-9 and E-Verify proceedings, while serves on the Immigration Subcommittee of the US Chamber of Commerce. The practice is known for its customized work permit management programs, which it sets up for US corporations with the help of a document automation platform that delivers a highly customized output. The recommended Angelo Paparelli has represented various clients in the EB-5 investor green card program. Boston-based Gabriel Mozes was promoted to partner.

Akerman LLP’s Florida-based immigration practice assists clients in all immigration matters, such as the case preparation and legal analysis of corporate, NIV, and PERM immigration transactions, I-9 immigration compliance and the EB-5 program. The practice is co-led by Michael Benchetrit and Thomas Raleigh. Benchetrit has developed a niche practice centered around the immigration needs of Israeli companies seeking to access the US market, while Raleigh serves as the firm’s market entry coordinator and assists public companies, sports teams, investors and professionals in obtaining US work authorization, preparing petitions, and applications with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Embassies overseas. The practice has wide-ranging industry knowledge, but is particularly active in the hospitality sector, where it acts for a number of Florida country clubs, such as The Everglades Club in Palm Beach, The Westchester Country Club and Glenview Country Club. Other clients include Coldstone Creamery and Somfy Systems. Scott Bettridge joined Fox Rothschild LLP.

Duane Morris LLP’s immigration lawyers provide ‘excellent’ response times, which are ‘only exceeded by their in-depth knowledge of immigration laws and regulations’. ‘Excellent attorney’ Denyse Sabagh heads the broad-ranging practice, which handles all immigration matters, ranging from visas to training workshops, representation before immigration authorities, waivers and litigation. Its acts for publicly traded and private corporations alike, including large multinationals right through to start-up ventures in various industries, notably including information technology, biotechnology, security and telecoms. Universities, embassies, religious organizations, and a range of non-profit entities are also part of the client roster. San Francisco-based Lisa Spiegel is another key figure, whose recent work includes handling PERM applications, as well as numerous E-3 and TN applications.

Foster LLP was established in Texas and maintains offices in Houston, Austin and Rio Grande Valley, as well as in Mexico City. Houston-based chairman Charles Foster has a long history of representing clients in EB-5 matters and heads the firm’s investor visa practice; the firm as a whole has a high standing in the field of obtaining EB-5 visas for high-net-worth individuals and has advised entrepreneurs on developing and structuring US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)-approved regional centers. Other notable names are Austin-based Robert Loughran and Houston-based Nestor Rosin. The group often works in conjunction with law firms internationally to advise clients on global immigration matters and handle PERM applications and consular immigration. It also assists with employer sanctions and risk management strategies, as well as helping its corporate clients in adapting to the new US Customs and Border Control procedure for processing I-94 records and consulting companies in preparing consular visas.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s clients praise the ‘excellent’ service level supplied by a ‘dedicated team that fully understands our complex business model’. It advises multinational corporations on employment-related immigration issues, represents businesses, organizations and individuals on EB-5 matters and is active in the field of M&A, where it recently advised numerous clients on how to structure deals that enable successor companies to continue to employ foreign national workers in compliance with US immigration law. Laura Reiff and Martha Schoonover co-chair the practice, which recently recruited nine associates. Other key figures to note are Kate Kalmykov, who splits her practice between New York and New Jersey, Atlanta-based Ian Macdonald and McLean-based Pamela Mak, who is experienced in due diligence relating to M&A and restructuring.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s ‘level of expertise, responsiveness and client-oriented approach to providing advice is unparalleled’. The New York-based department of nine acts for companies and organisations in all phases of the hiring and transfer of foreign nationals, such as executives, managers, professionals, investors and performing artists. Mark Koestler and Ted Ruthizer, who has ‘thorough knowledge of the industry and work immigration field’, lead the team of ‘practical problem-solvers’. Ruthizer - who acts for clients across finance, technology, insurance, advertising, consumer brands, media and the arts - recently advised a global insurance company on its compliance with immigration requirements. Koestler represents advertising agencies, banks and other financial institutions, hedge funds and corporations, as well as some of the leading US theater companies; he recently acted for a financial services company and its subsidiaries on all aspects of employing foreign nationals in the US. New York-based Matthew Dunn regularly acts for companies facing I-9 audits.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.’s Boston-based immigration practice acts for corporate clients as well as entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, and individuals seeking to live and work in the US, handling representation before various government agencies, including US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department and the Department of Labor. It advises companies on immigration matters arising from M&A mergers helps to develop best-practice compliance policies for global mobility programs. As the universities of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are close by, the firm regularly acts for MBA program graduates. The department has an excellent reputation for handling pro bono political asylum work. Practice chair Susan Cohen is considered a thought-leader in immigration law and often represents clients before government agencies including USCIS and the State Department. Douglas Hauer and Reena Thadhani are other names to note.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s immigration group, which is spread across the firm’s Washington DC, Boston and San Francisco offices, is jointly led by James Vázquez-Azpiri in San Francisco and Eleanor Pelta in Washington DC. Vázquez-Azpiri represents Samsung Research America in a wide range of US and global immigration matters, such as obtaining green cards for highly qualified employees through the US’ outstanding researcher and Schedule A, Group II programs. The department also handles Brocade’s immigration due diligence with respect to international corporate acquisitions and assisted Samsung Semiconductor in the development of an immigration program and the creation of an employment verification system, as well as handling all of Seagate’s global mobility immigration work after the company has undertaken an expansion of its global talent needs with consequently greater inbound and outbound employee mobility. Another important client is Fujitsu, which the firm is advising in regard to its intracompany transfer program. Other clients include Sony Computer Entertainment America and JCPenney. Mark Matthews moved to Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s Newark-based immigration and nationality practice provides guidance on visas, waivers and certifications, as well as the full range of immigration issues affecting international businesses, including corporate immigration policies, guidance on avoiding unlawful practices, compliance with record keeping, and anti-discrimination provisions. David Grunblatt and senior associate Praveena Nallainathan jointly head the department. Nallainathan manages the immigration programs for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (Clinton Foundation), The New York Times, Markit Group Limited and Broadridge Financial Solutions. The firm’s high-profile and broad-ranging client base also includes Coach, HSBC USA, Major League Baseball, and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Baker McKenzie LLP operates ‘at the highest level of professionalism’. In addition to handling the full scope of US and global immigration services, the practice assists in specialty matters relating to critical enforcement trends - including worksite compliance, best practices for business visitor travel, integrated preventative protocols and VIP executive transfer services. The practice manages US and multi-jurisdictional projects for clients such as AGCO Corporation, Caterpillar, CFA Institute, and T. Rowe Price. Washington DC-based Shannon Donnelly leads the team managing the Royal Bank of Canada’s full US, Canada, Europe and Australia immigration portfolio, which includes handling several hundred visa candidates per year, developing global visa solutions for corporate executives and technical professionals, as well as managing the bank’s permanent residency and compliance needs. In Chicago, practice head Betsy Morgan has ‘the ability to see the bigger picture and always works to find ways to improve’ and Ginger Partee is also a key name.

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.’s ‘excellent’ immigration group is ‘always available to discuss issues and is knowledgeable and informative’. The department, led by New York-based Robert Groban, has a broad-ranging practice, which includes assisting its public and private sector clients with applications and investigations involving various bureaus within the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Department of Labor and the Department of State. Newark-based Patrick Brady handles and counsels the MAN group on all immigration matters enabling its companies to bring foreign workers to perform managerial and technical services in the US. Brady also acts for Schindler Group in regard to all immigration matters. New York-based Pierre Georges Bonnefil acts as immigration counsel to the French Consulate in New York City and regularly assist it with sensitive immigration matters. Newark-based Jungmin Choi was made partner.

Clients report being ‘very pleased’ with Ford & Harrison LLP’s ‘response times, industry knowledge and understanding of immigration law’. The practice is comprehensive and has substantial experience in advising and representing start-ups, as well as more established companies. Key figures include practice head Geetha Nadiminti Adinata, who is based in Los Angeles, as well as Mary Pivec in Washington DC and Charles Roach in Minneapolis. Adinata was retained by a leading furniture retailer to conduct internal I-9 audits and represented a major provider of staffing services during Department of Homeland Security I-9 audits, successfully negotiating a reduced fine. Roach collaborated with the second largest US healthcare charity to obtain foreign talent and highly skilled professionals through temporary visas and employment-based green cards; the department also assisted high-net-worth individuals with EB-5 Investor permanent visas and advised hospitals on leverage federal and state J-1 waiver programs and H-1B visa programs to recruit and retain foreign physicians committed to serve in medically underserved communities.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s ‘very strong’ group gives advice that is ‘detail-oriented and always backed by in-depth knowledge’. The Washington DC-based practice is led by Beth Peters and Aleksandar Dukic. Peters regularly provides legal and policy advice on legislative initiatives affecting international trade and immigration matters. Dukic assists clients in various industries in sponsoring individuals for immigrant and non-immigrant visa status, as well as on export certifications, I-9 verifications, E-Verify, audits and other compliance matters under immigration regulations. Dean & Company and its affiliated entity DC Energy Management retained Dukic to obtain authorization of its foreign national employees to work in the US, both for temporary non-immigrant visas and permanent residency cards. Akelius Real Estate is a new client and Dr. Pepper, National Geographic Society and Snapchat also call on the firm for its immigration law services.

Omaha-based Amy Peck and Reston-based Michael Neifach co-chair Jackson Lewis P.C.’s immigration group, which typically handles visa filings for temporary and permanent employees, compliance issues and, in cooperation with the employment group, preventative strategies for its impressive list of clients. Another focus is immigration litigation. Other key figures are William Manning, Sean Hanagan and Marko Maglich, and Austin-based Maggie Murphy. All lawyers mentioned are based in White Plains, New York unless noted otherwise. Kevin Lashus has moved to FisherBroyles, LLP.

Mayer Brown’s immigration group has a ‘business-led service in a very data-driven, commercial and pragmatic manner’. Washington DC-based Elizabeth Espín Stern - who is ‘an inspiration, a catalyst for innovation and exciting to work with’ - leads the firm’s global mobility and migration practice group, which also includes Grace Shie and Paul Virtue. The scope of the practice covers visa and residency applications, management and compliance, and includes an early warning system for risks tied to changes in immigration law. Stern is part of a team that continues to manage American Express’ immigration program, including advisory and consultative services, preparation and filing of visa and work permit applications, development of international staffing strategies and expedited solutions for senior executives and management of immigration-related compliance. The same team also manages CoStar’s global mobility needs, including the full range of visa transactions for employees globally. The broad-ranging client roster also includes Bank Leumi Le-Israel, Princeton International School of Mathematics & Science and Research Now.

The ‘excellent’ immigration group at McDermott Will & Emery LLP is ‘most reliable, punctual and always available’. The practice encompasses the full spectrum of immigration services and, besides the core visa service, has a particular focus on immigration compliance, especially with respect to government audits. The client roster includes multinational and domestic clients, among them Sonar Entertainment, Studio Daniel Libeskind and The Clinton Foundation, as well as various foreign entertainers and artists. The team recently obtained special visas for a group of teenage boys from Nigeria after they witnessed a murder of a teammate while traveling to the US to play in a youth soccer league. New York-based practice head Joan-Elisse Carpentier is ‘highly responsive, experienced and 100% involved in matter’. Her recent work includes representing Spanish dancer Eila Valls Domenech in successfully procuring the appropriate visas for her to enter the US.

Arnall Golden Gregory LLP’s practice group regularly procures employment-based temporary and permanent visas, handles workforce compliance issues such as Form I-9, E-Verify and related audits and investigations, as well as immigration-related tax and import/export controls compliance. The group cooperates with the immigration division of the Employment Law Alliance on global mobility issues. The Washington DC office, where Montserrat Miller is a key figure, has a particular focus on regulatory compliance, as well as related practices, including white-collar crime.

San Antonio-based Victoria Garcia is the main contact in Bracewell LLP’s immigration practice, which provides clients with legal guidance regarding business immigration matters, such as responding to audits, inquiries and investigations by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor and complying with US labor and immigration laws on the hiring, retention and management of workforces, as well as utilizing the E-2 and EB-5 investor options as a strategy for raising capital and obtaining permanent residency. Garcia represents Valero Energy, NuStar GP Holdings, CST Brands and CST Services in all matters related to immigration, including the preparation of H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, TN and other non-immigrant visas. Houston-based senior counsel Nelli Nikova has substantial experience with employment-based non-immigrant visas for alien employees, including O-1 exceptional abilities and H-1 specialty occupation.

Boston-based immigration specialist firm Chin & Curtis LLP assists a wide range of clients - from multinationals to start-ups and NGOs - in corporate immigration matters, such as compliance issues, temporary employment visas, the drafting of internal immigration policies and permanent residency applications. Managing partner and co-founder Philip Curtis has a broad range of experience in family-based immigration, naturalization, worksite compliance, as well as federal and state litigation. Sarah Coleman and Lorie Lunn are other names to note.

Matthew Schulz leads Dentons’ global mobility group from the Silicon Valley office. The firm’s recent absorption of McKenna Long & Aldridge reinforced the practice, notably including the arrival of James Levine. The practice handles all business non-immigrant and immigrant visas for temporary business visitors and those seeking permanent residency who bring extraordinary ability, professional experience, business investment and religious training. The team is assisting a global agribusiness in moving personnel to sites by handling visas for key management and research staff in California, Mexico, China and the European Union. The team recently assisted biotech company Zymergen with obtaining visas for research staff.

Fisher & Phillips’ Atlanta-based immigration practice handles a broad range of immigration matters, from compliance and enforcement to the pre-processing of application materials and coordination of consular procedures for the transfer of employees. Practice head Kim Thompson handles extensive visa work and compliance with Form I-9, including government audits of I-9 forms and discrimination and document abuse provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. In order to manage I-9 risks, the department cooperates with an external company to provide clients with an online I-9 verification system. The practice, which also includes key figures Shanon Stevenson and Jessica Cook, is frequently instructed to advise on O-1 visas for athletes, scientific researchers, as well as individuals employed by manufacturing and aerospace companies. Jocelyn Campanaro and Angelica Ochoa joined the team from Ogletree Deakins.

Andrew Merrills chairs the immigration department at Ogletree Deakins. The team secured the approval of an I-140 EB-1 Outstanding Researcher immigrant visa petition in two days on behalf of a mining company. New York-based Maria Fernanda Gandarez obtained swift approval (within seven days of filing) of an O-1 Extraordinary Ability visa for a British hair stylist without a request for additional evidence by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Jocelyn Campanaro and Angelica Ochoa joined Fisher & Phillips, while Robert Seiger moved to Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP.

The ‘outstandingPryor Cashman LLP provides clients with ‘the most appropriate, pragmatic advice with both the company’s and employees’ best interests at heart’. The department has a particular focus on sports immigration law; it is one of the few firms in New York offering specialized immigration counsel to foreign athletes. Colleen Caden heads the practice, which includes Alice Stock and the ‘highly responsive’ Avram Morell, who has a ‘personal yet objective approach’.

The Washington DC-based team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP is able to ‘creatively problem-solve for different options’. The department focuses on compliance with homeland security rules, regulations, mandated procedures, temporary and permanent immigration to the US and employment-related compliance issues. The group acts for corporate clients and individuals in citizenship renunciation applications, asylum cases and foreign adoptions and assists with immigrant and non-immigrant applications for employees and family members, as well as visa applications and I-9 records. Practice head Lynda Zengerle ‘shows versatile but deep knowledge of the subject matter at hand and answers swiftly and clearly’. Elisabeth Laskey LaRocca has substantial experience of PERM labor certifications and employment-based adjustments, as well as non-immigrant petitions for executives of multinational corporations.

Troutman Sanders’ practice, which operates from offices in Atlanta and Chicago, advises clients on a broad range of business immigration issues. The group regularly handles non-immigrant visa status and permanent residency matters for corporations, facilitating the transfer of personnel from the US to other parts of the world, as well as handling large-scale transfers of international personnel and assisting companies in local recruitment and hiring. Atlanta-based Mark Newman, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the field, is well versed in handling appeals, re-filings, requests for evidence and outbound visas, while of counsel Aimee Clark Todd has particular experience of obtaining L-1 visas for hi-tech clients.

Vedder Price has a broad-ranging immigration practice, covering temporary and permanent immigration classifications in all business-related categories. The group, led by Chicago-based Gabrielle Buckley, drafts and files visa applications at US embassies and consulates and assists employers that are subject to governmental audits, investigations and prosecutions. The multinational client roster includes AXA Assistance, SSAB Group and the Bank of Ireland. Longstanding client Mercedes-Benz utilizes the firm for various immigration-related matters - such as pre-employment issues, I-9 compliance and non-immigrant visas.


Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense

Index of tables

  1. Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP leads in high-stakes cases across the complete range of employment matters, including non-compete agreements and trade secrets, employment discrimination class actions, ERISA, and employee benefits. The group is particularly active before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and recently scored an en banc victory for Ford against the commission, which alleged that it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing accommodation for an employee seeking authorization to work from home on an ad hoc basis. In a later ruling, the Sixth Circuit reversed the panel’s decision to find that attendance is essential and that employers should not need to provide unpredictable telecommuting arrangements as an accommodation. In other work highlights, the firm acted alongside co-counsel Littler Mendelson, P.C. to take over as lead trial and appellate counsel in a series of putative class actions against thousands of drivers claiming that they have been misclassified as independent contractors. Catherine Conway jointly leads the practice with Jason Schwartz. Also recommended are, Eugene Scalia, Michele Maryott, Jesse Cripps, Julian Poon and Karl Nelson. In recent personnel developments, Katherine Smith and Gabrielle Levin were promoted to partner, and William Kilberg retired. Named attorneys practice in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Orange County, Dallas and New York.

Jones Day reaches ‘the gold standard when it comes to Railway Labor Act and Federal Railroad Safety Act issues’. ‘Skilled litigator’ Donald Munro defended BNSF Railway against the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’ attempt to enjoin the implementation of new rail freight services through alleging that changes to the way employees were called to work presented major disputes under the RLA; these were, in fact, minor and the changes were found to be justified under existing collective bargaining agreements. The group also handled several class actions for McDonald’s, including the wage and hour case, Ochoa et al v McDonald’s Corp et al, which saw Elizabeth McRee, Lawrence DiNardo and Fred Alvarez represent the company against claims that it had violated the California Labor Code and Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA); missed meal and rest breaks, unpaid overtime and inaccurate wage statements allegations were asserted with claims that the chain acted as a joint employer with its co-defendant franchisee. The firm has ‘a deep bench in a wide variety of areas’; other names to note include practice co-heads Michael Gray and Matthew Lampe, as well as Eric Dreiband, Willis Goldsmith, Doreen Davis, Terri Chase, Alison Marshall and Robert Naeve. Also recommended are Jonathan Linas, Patricia Dunn and David Birnbaum, who were all recently made up to partner. Attorneys work in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Silicon Valley, and Irvine. Robert Ford, Amy Dias and Thomas Jerman retired from practice.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is ‘outstanding’ in a range of areas, including single-plaintiff and class action discrimination suits, trade secrets litigation, and ERISA matters. Rated as ‘one of the best’, the firm acted in a significant Supreme Court case for Amazon and its subsidiaries, in which Princeton-based Richard Rosenblatt and appellate attorney Allyson Ho (splits time between Dallas and Houston) defended against 15 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and hour class and collective actions concerning the compensability of security screening time after employees’ shifts had ended. Philadelphia-based practice head Joseph Costello worked with Washington DC’s Grace Speights to obtain a summary judgment for The Vanguard Group in a discrimination case filed by a demoted employee alleging that Vanguard managed out minorities based on pretextual performance issues; the plaintiff made disparate impact retaliation and hostile work environment claims. Other clients include The Cheesecake Factory, Lionsgate and Burberry. Miami-based Anne Marie Estevez, San Francisco’s Eric Meckley, and Philadelphia’s Michael Burkhardt, Michael Banks and Sarah Bouchard are recommended along with New York-based Samuel Shaulson and the ‘top-notch’ Melinda Riechert in Silicon Valley. Former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member Harry Johnson joined the Santa Monica office, Dallas-based Ann Marie Arcadi arrived from K&L Gates and several new partners came from the firm’s acquisition of Bingham McCutchen. On the promotion side, Michael Schlemmer made partner in Silicon Valley. William Doyle and Joel Allen departed to McGuireWoods LLP, Joseph Santucci is now senior counsel at Schwartz Hannum PC, George Stohner joined Faegre Baker Daniels, and Joyce Taber moved in-house at Actelion Pharmaceuticals. Rebecca Eisen and Rene Johnson retired from practice.

Proskauer Rose LLP fields ‘one of the best employment departments in the country’ and has a ‘very good handle on the relevant areas of law’ to provide full coverage through focused practices, including a sports law group, which is jointly led by Howard Ganz, and a class and collective actions practice, headed by Elise Bloom and Boston-based Mark Batten. Leading the way in unpaid internship class actions, the practice defended Fox Searchlight Pictures in the Second Circuit, where an earlier judgment stating that interns working on Black Swan were employees under the FLSA and New York State Department of Labor (DOL) was rejected on the proviso that determining employee status rests on whether the intern or employer is the primary beneficiary. The firm was also successful in the Second Circuit for Coca-Cola, which it defended against claims filed by current and former production operators alleging race discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation. Litigators Joseph Baumgarten and Gregory Rasin jointly lead the department and work alongside Los Angeles’ ‘fantastic attorney’ Anthony Oncidi and the revered Bettina Plevan. Also recommended are Keisha-Ann Gray, Zachary Fasman, Allan Bloom and Adam Lupion, who leads the Major League Baseball salary arbitration practice. John Barry, who splits time between Newark and New York, ‘gets to the heart of the issue very quickly’ and co-chairs the non-compete and trade secrets group with newly promoted Washington DC partner Guy Brenner. ERISA litigator Russell Hirschhorn also made partner and Harris Mufson was promoted to senior counsel. Kenneth Sulzer is now with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP in Los Angeles and Mark Saloman joined Ford & Harrison LLP in Berkeley Heights. Unless otherwise stated, all named lawyers are based in New York.

Recommended for strategic guidance’, O’Melveny & Myers LLP shines in high-profile litigation and handles the full range of issues, including wage and hour class actions, non-compete cases and negative covenant litigation. Silicon Valley’s Eric Amdursky defended Yahoo! and its executive Maria Zhang against sexual harassment allegations made by a former software engineer, who also alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination. Zhang later filed a cross-complaint and in 2015 both suits were dismissed with the parties reaching a nonmonetary settlement. Los Angeles-based department head Apalla Chopra represented Coldwell Banker against a class action challenge to sales agents being classified as independent contractors rather than employees; Newport Beach’s Adam Karr and New York’s Jeffrey Kohn also worked on the matter and helped Chopra with issuing new independent contractor agreements for Coldwell, which included an arbitration clause and class action waiver that plaintiffs later contested; the court’s validation of agreements reduced the class size and led to a favorable resolution. The ‘very attentive’ team has an enviable client roster, which includes The Walt Disney Company, FedEx and DirecTV. Kohn provides ‘excellent judgment and guidance’ and Mark Robertson is also highly respected.

Among the top firms’, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s expertise includes Dodd-Frank whistleblower defense and internal investigations, trade secrets and employee mobility litigation, and wage and hour matters. In Silicon Valley, Lynne Hermle and Jessica Perry defended Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in a major gender discrimination and retaliation case filed by Ellen Pao, a former employee that alleged she had been passed over for a promotion and was subsequently terminated for making an internal complaint. New York’s Mike Delikat leads the practice and defended Jefferies in an arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority relating to allegations made by the former head of automotive investment, who claimed that the company owed the plaintiff $9m in bonuses and fees from an oral promise made by the bank to supply bonus compensation for transactions and that resigning to join a competitor would not forfeit these. San Francisco-based Andrew Livingston ‘knows the law in this area very well’ and represents clients including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Morgan Stanley and Sephora. New York’s James McQuade ‘has first-rate intelligence, litigation skills and judgment’ and Laura Becking is an employee benefits expert. San Francisco-based Michael Weil and Silicon Valley’s Joseph Liburt are also recommended. Patricia Gillette became special counsel in San Francisco and Christopher Wilkinson joined the Washington DC office from the DOL. Sacramento’s Lauri Damrell, New York’s Renee Phillips and Silicon Valley’s Julia Riechert made partner.

A go-to firm for high-stakes litigation, Paul Hastings LLP has established itself as a leader in class and collective actions, appellate and trial cases, employee mobility, and trade secret matters. Los Angeles-based Leslie Abbott obtained the dismissal of a class action for Advantage Sales & Marketing, where plaintiffs made wage and hour claims under the FLSA, which could have impacted thousands of employees nationwide. In San Francisco, Jeffrey Wohl and Zach Hutton defended Amgen against a putative class action brought against it by senior associate scientists. Department chair Patrick Shea, Marc Bernstein and Stephen Sonnenberg are key figures in New York, and Kenneth Willner, Barbara Brown, Neal Mollen and Carson Sullivan are impressive in Washington DC. Nancy Abell and George Abele are the names to note in Los Angeles. Leslie Dent departed to Littler Mendelson, P.C. and Geoff Weirich established Weirich Consulting & Mediation and at of counsel level, Cory Barker moved to an in-house role at AT&T and Erika Leonard joined Ogletree Deakins as a shareholder.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP attains the ‘gold standard’ in wage and hour class actions, EEOC matters, and has extensive experience in California employment law. In EEOC v Forge Industrial Staffing, the group successfully limited the commission’s subpoena enforcement authority connected to claims of sexual harassment and retaliation filed by a former employee. Gerald Maatman, with co-counsel Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, acted for Sterling Jewelers in a long-running class action concerning alleged nationwide pay and promotion discrimination against women. The plaintiff’s motions for class certification were recently denied, as were claims for punitive damages for 44,000 class members. Praise abounds attorneys at this firm: Maatman is a ‘leader in this discipline, always available and ready to refine a strategy’; ‘the practical, personable and knowledgeable’ Camille Olson ‘always makes time’ for her clients; Ada Dolph ‘is superior at litigation strategy’; and newly promoted partner Matthew Gagnon is ‘not paralyzed by the myriad of options’. Practice chair Lisa Damon, Richard Alfred, Brett Bartlett, Robert Stevens, and Richard Lapp are also highly experienced. Partner promotions include Kerry McCoy Friedrichs, Jeffrey Wortman, and Giselle Donado. Andrew Scroggins from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Christina Janice from Signet Jewelers were new senior counsel hires while Arthur Rooney departed to Baker McKenzie LLP. Named individuals are based in Chicago, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is ‘top of the class’ in areas such as restrictive covenant and trade secrets litigation, internal investigations, benefit-related disputes, and class and collective actions involving discrimination and wage violation claims. Practice leader Jeffrey Klein, ‘excellent employment litigator’ Gary Friedman, ERISA expert Nicholas Pappas, and counsel Lawrence Baer are the primary contacts, whose clients include Godiva Chocolatier, Ralph Lauren Corporation, MasterCard, and other large corporates. Friedman scored two significant victories for Forest Laboratories (now Allergan) and its subsidiary Forest Pharmaceuticals in a putative class and collective action brought against it by eleven former sales representatives alleging gender discrimination claims, including family responsibility discrimination and compensation disparity; Millie Warner also worked on the case and was recently promoted to counsel. Klein, an ‘exceptional legal mind’ with ‘incomparable judgment’, was retained by Hudson’s Bay Company regarding the termination of Saks Fifth Avenue’s CEO and hire of chief information officer Janet Schalk. All individuals mentioned are based in New York.

At boutique Fisher & Phillips, nationwide coverage spans Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago, Memphis and Los Angeles. Managing partners Suzanne Bogdan and Joseph Ambash, based in Fort Lauderdale and Boston respectively, are the primary contacts. Bogdan handles a range of work, including family leave issues and breach of contract cases, and Ambash represents clients before the NLRB and DOL, and has wrongful termination expertise. San Diego’s David Monks won a jury verdict for Ryder and one of its employees against a former mechanic alleging racial harassment and various other claims relating to constructive discharge in violation of public policy. James Polkinghorn, who divides his time between Fort Lauderdale and Washington DC, heads the litigation practice and recently represented a law firm against the widow of a deceased former partner claiming unfair dismissal following a cancer diagnosis. Fort Lauderdale of counsel Candice Pinares-Baez was also involved in the aforementioned case. Dallas-based Janet Hendrick and Columbia’s Reyburn Lominack were among recent partner promotions.

The team at Greenberg Traurig, LLP has ‘deep industry knowledge’ in a plethora of matters involving unfair labor practices, ERISA, alleged workplace violence and employment discrimination before state, federal and local agencies. Atlanta’s David Long-Daniels, New York’s Jonathan Sulds and Tampa’s Peter Zinober jointly lead the practice, which includes New Jersey lawyers Robert Bernstein (a ‘top labor litigator’), Wendy Johnson Lario, Micala Campbell Robinson and Kristine Feher. New York’s Jerrold Goldberghas a wealth of knowledge’ in labor law and is recommended along with Los Angeles-based Mark Kemple and Atlanta’s resident ERISA and employee benefits and executive compensation expert Todd Wozniak. Philadelphia’s James Boudreau leads the class and collective action group and is handling a series of FLSA and Pennsylvania state law putative nationwide collective actions for Tenet Healthcare relating to automatic meal break deductions and overtime compensation. New hires include McLean-based Ronda Esaw from McGuireWoods LLP and Houston’s Shira Yoshor, formerly of Baker Botts L.L.P.. John Richards was promoted to shareholder in Atlanta.

Clients have ‘extraordinary confidence’ in Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP for the lawyers’ ‘expertise in all areas of employment law’. Department head Kevin Leblang ‘consistently offers practical guidance along with astute legal analysis’ and ‘fantastic’ special counsel Eliza Kaiser is also highly regarded. ‘Incredibly client-focused’, the practice acts for a remarkable base of financial institutions, including BlackRock and Société Générale. Leblang represented the Royal Bank of Canada in three significant cases concerning compensation claims as well as age and gender discrimination allegations, which involved high-level executives, large monetary sums and reputational risk. Robert Holtzman defended Alex Toys against Crayola’s claims of confidential information theft and breach of restrictive covenants by three former employees; the new executive vice president of sales faced termination soon after the plaintiff sought to enforce a non-compete agreement. All named attorneys reside in New York.

Under co-presidents and managing directors Thomas Bender (Philadelphia) and Jeremy Roth (San Diego), Littler Mendelson, P.C.’s sizeable and specialist practice has garnered experience in EEOC litigation, whistleblower and retaliation claims, unfair competition, and multiple other areas. Danielle Kitson (Denver) defended NewFields and several of its employees before a jury, which found that the company had not conspired to raid AMEC (now Amec Foster Wheeler) following its hire of three principles and 67 employees from the plaintiff, which based its $20m suit upon various alleged breaches of non-compete agreements. In Los Angeles, the main contacts are Kevin Lilly and Helene Wasserman, who heads the litigation and trials group with Richard Harris in Philadelphia. The Atlanta team grew significantly in a slew of hires that brought former Ogletree Deakins shareholders Daniel Turner, Tracey Barbaree, Beth Moeller and Lauren Zeldin into the fold. San Francisco’s Kai-Ching Cha and Houston’s Alexis Knapp were among shareholder promotions and Denise Drake departed to Polsinelli PC.

With over 40 nationwide locations, Ogletree Deakins provides targeted advice through specialist groups, individually focusing on governmental affairs and ethics compliance, appellate, class action, and drug testing work. The firm also has sector expertise in areas such as construction, higher education and energy. Houston’s managing shareholder Jeffrey Londa won a long-running national class action for Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) relating to claims of hostile environment, harassment and military service discrimination made under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. In Los Angeles, Jack Sholkoff acted for DR Horton and its subsidiary in a major case stemming from allegations that the defendant failed to provide meal and rest breaks. Also recommended are Dallas-based Ron Chapman and Indianapolis-based managing shareholder Kim Ebert. New offices in Seattle and Milwaukee opened in a rapid expansion that led to new hires, including Minneapolis-based Andrew Tanick from Ford & Harrison LLP and former Figari & Davenport LLP attorney Gary Eisenstat in Dallas. Shareholder promotions include Catherine Coble and Clark Whitney in Los Angeles and Philadelphia respectively.

Reed Smith LLP’s ‘top-notch’ practice provides a coast-to-coast service to an impressive array of clients, including Estée Lauder Companies, NBCUniversal, and Hertz. Sara Begley (‘responsive, practical and tough’) leads the ‘excellent’ team and takes on a varied caseload of litigation including all forms of discrimination and wage and hour matters under the FLSA. In 2015, the practice handled the full panoply of issues, from putative nationwide class actions under the FLSA and PAGA to substantial claims for unpaid overtime. Carolyn Short represented Unilife in a Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank whistleblower action filed by a former employee alleging that the company’s publications mislead investors; the plaintiff sought various expenses, but later agreed to pay the company to settle its counterclaims. Named partners are based in Philadelphia and Mark Temple is also noted in Houston and Chicago.

Expertise at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP spans stock option disputes, class certification, invasion of privacy and prevailing wage matters. Los Angeles’ Kelly Hensley, Orange County’s Greg Labate and New York’s Jonathan Stoler head the department, which counts Landry’s, Hyundai America Technical Center and Taco Bell as clients. Through the efforts of Los Angeles-based Richard Simmons, the California Courts of Appeal reversed a jury verdict and court judgment that originally found Burke Williams Day Spa to be liable for failing to prevent harassment to an employee that alleged sex discrimination, racial and sexual harassment, and other claims. The new decision stated that juries should not award damages for failure to prevent harassment or unlawful discrimination if they find no actionable harassment or adverse employment action. In Chicago, Jill Vorobiev arrived from Dykema Gossett PLLC, and in Silicon Valley, Nancy Pritikin joined from Littler Mendelson, P.C.. Brian Murphy and Christopher Collins were promoted to partner in New York, as was Morgan Forsey in San Francisco.

The lawyers at Winston & Strawn LLP produce ‘phenomenal work’ through ‘experienced litigators with deep knowledge of employment law’, particularly ERISA and wage and hour class actions. Michael Roche now manages the group while former head Rex Sessions maintains an active practice. San Francisco’s managing partner Joan Tucker Fife shines in ‘difficult litigation and the most serious internal investigations’ and Michael Mulhern is ‘more than a highly qualified attorney’. ‘Setting the standard’ are John Dickman, Washington DC’s William Miossi, New York’s Stephen Sheinfeld, and Marcus Torrano and Laura Petroff (both in Los Angeles). Torrano defended International Paper against two California suits regarding thousands of hours of unused vacation time, which had allegedly accrued over decades and could have amounted to damages worth millions of dollars. Caterpillar, Abbott Laboratories, Tesoro and Marsh & McLennan Companies are other key clients. Daniel Fazio and Aviva Grumet-Morris made partner and of counsel Julie Hall moved to AlvaradoSmith APC. All individuals are based in Chicago, unless otherwise stated.

Baker & Hostetler LLP’s national practice includes offices in Washington DC, Orlando, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Columbus. David Grant leads the team from Washington DC and is a leading figure with Orlando’s Kevin Shaughnessy, who specializes in class actions. Los Angeles-based Margaret Rosenthal formed part of the team that decertified a class of over 200 former and current assistant store managers on behalf of Host International, after a former assistant store manager filed a putative collective action for allegedly being misclassified as exempt from the FLSA overtime compensation and minimum wage requirements. The department was also active in single-plaintiff matters involving age, disability and race discrimination, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and retaliation claims. New York’s Paul Rosenberg, Cleveland’s Jeffrey Vlasek and Columbus’ Jennifer Edwards were promoted to the partnership. Tracey Ellerson now works in-house at Brambles.

Baker McKenzie LLPsets the bar by which many firms are measured’. In Houston, practice head Scott Nelson and Richard Hammett are highly regarded, as is Cynthia Jackson* in Palo Alto, praised for her ‘superior skillset’. She defended OK International and its parent company Dover Corporation against a wage and hour class action concerning allegations of unpaid overtime, missed breaks, unfair business practices and off-the-clock time as well as PAGA issues regarding employees’ time entries. Other mandates include representing clients in EEOC discrimination matters, NLRB proceedings and Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims. Chicago’s Douglas Darch and New York’s Robert Lewis are also revered. Arthur Rooney joined from Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Chicago, Celina Joachim returned to the Houston office from Direct Energy, and Palo Alto-based Kevin Whittaker arrived from Reed Smith LLP as of counsel. Houston’s Jordan Faykus and Emily Paige Harbison made partner, as did Chicago’s Ryan Vann. *Since publication, Cynthia Jackson has joined Dentons.

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP expanded significantly, adding a number of partners from Littler Mendelson, P.C. in New York and Kansas City, namely Donald Prophete, Nikki Howell, Nicholas Walker and Anjanette Cabrera. Additional hires include Jim Goh and Steven Moore (also based in Los Angeles Century City), who left Ogletree Deakins to establish the Denver office. Atlanta-based Neil Wasser heads the practice, which opened further sites in Memphis, Los Angeles, Miami and Minneapolis. Prophete, Goh and Moore scored a major victory for the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Division I universities in dismissing a wage and hour class action asserting that student athletes should be classified as employees under the FLSA. Other team changes saw Jack Wallace (Kansas City and New York) and Kate Scarbrough (Nashville) make partner. Scott Agthe departed to FisherBroyles, LLP and Arthur Lambert joined Fisher & Phillips.

As well as its class action strength, DLA Piper LLP (US) has garnered expertise in an array of claims, including trade secrets, whistleblowing, and non-solicitation covenants. Dividing his time between New York and Chicago, Michael Sheehan leads the practice, which expanded its presence in the former by hiring Brian Kaplan, Joseph Alan Piesco, Daniel Turinsky and Eric Wallach from Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP. Wallach represented PVH, with its brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger USA in several matters, including three putative class actions concerning intern classification and Fair Credit Reporting Act violation claims. Also recommended are Chicago’s Rachel Cowen and Los Angeles’ Maria Rodriguez. Russell Gardner retired and Phillip Wang departed to Fox Rothschild LLP.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘excellent subject matter knowledge’ includes wrongful termination, where it handles all actions brought by senior-level employees and whistleblower cases; corporate raiding involving disputes over non-compete agreements and various issues connected to hiring executives; contract disputes centered on highly paid executives and sophisticated compensation agreements; and matters involving alleged sexual harassment, employee fraud and other misconduct. The practice is led from New York by Jyotin Hamid, who ‘gives sound, practical advice’, and Mary Beth Hogan. In ERISA-related work, Hamid acted for GoldenTree Asset Management in three cases against three pension funds arising out of investment management and advisory services provided by GoldenTree through Source Interlink, which was an employer that ceased making contributions to the funds.

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. is recognized for its ‘strength in depth’, ‘value for money’ and ‘superb advice’ across areas such as class actions, wrongful termination, independent contractor misclassification, and workplace violence. David Garland, who splits his time between New York and Newark, heads the department and recently obtained a summary judgment for Baxter Healthcare Corporation in a case against a former director of regulatory affairs, who asserted breach of contract and ERISA violations relating to the denial of a stay bonus and severance benefits following their termination. The ‘superb’ Newark-based Patrick Brady and New York-based Allen Roberts are ‘timely, practical, tactical, and well informed’, and Frank Morris in Washington DC is ‘knowledgeable, experienced, thoughtful, and responsive’. Los Angeles’ Marisa Ratinoff is also respected, as are Carmine Iannaccone and newly promoted partner Daniel Levy (both in Newark).

Pre-eminent boutique Jackson Lewis P.C. has undergone significant expansion recently; managing principal Mark Tilkens joined from Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP with his team in the new Madison office; Laura Prather joined from Akerman LLP and replaced Barnett Quinton Brooks, who has moved in-house, as managing principal in Tampa; Joseph DeBlasio became Monmouth County’s litigation manager and brought his team over from Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, P.C.; and Thomas Berry was a key addition in St. Louis from Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard P.C.. Vincent Cino chairs the firm from Morristown and works alongside Philadelphia-based managing principal John Nolan and Chicago’s Nadine Abrahams; both run the general employment litigation practice following Joan Ackerstein’s retirement. Clients, which include Pfizer, IBM and Toys “R” Us, call upon the firm for issues spanning employee privacy, breach of contract, and allegations of discrimination. Neil Dishman defended the City of Chicago - where he is based - in a putative collective action that claimed taxicab drivers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime payments that would cover expenses and make them government employees under the FLSA and Illinois state law. William Anthony, who splits his time between Abany and Hartford, co-heads the class actions and complex litigation practice and is noted alongside Los Angeles’ managing principal Mia Farber and John Bennett in Morristown.

K&L Gates defends employers across a wide expanse of class action and single-plaintiff cases, including agency-initiated enforcement actions and litigation, FLSA wage and hour collective actions, alleged ADA discrimination, breach of contract disputes and ERISA matters. In Seattle, Mark Filipini and Daniel Hurley won a jury verdict for Hertz in a high-profile case concerning the termination and alleged discrimination of Muslim employees, who did not clock out for paid prayer breaks. Newark-based practice head Rosemary Alito is relationship partner to Alcoa and serves as national litigation counsel in Washington DC, Iowa, Ohio, New York and numerous other states. Former co-head Patrick Madden remains integral to the group in Seattle. Portland’s Román Hernández was hired from Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt while John Morrison and John Roache joined Akerman LLP.

Ropes & Gray LLP has gained extensive experience in lawsuits filed by highly compensated senior executives. In a recent example, practice head Jeffrey Webb represented Covidien, with its ex-president and CEO, in a federal lawsuit brought against it by a former senior executive who joined a competitor prior to Medtronic’s acquisition of the company. It was alleged that the plaintiff was misled about the sale and that they would have maintained their position had they known about the deal; Webb, who splits his time between Boston and San Francisco, and Boston counsel Jenny Cooper (a former partner at Bingham McCutchen) are awaiting a decision to dismiss the claim. Wrongful termination cases, putative wage and hour class actions, and whistleblower claims also formed part of the recent workload.

Brian Gold, Wendy Lazerson and Jennifer Zargarof lead the team at Sidley Austin LLP, which acts for clients such as Aon, Exelon, and Archer Daniels Midland. The firm handles a varied caseload of Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act claims, discrimination class actions, executive contract disputes, and unfair labor practice charges, among other matters. Zargarof and Douglas Hart acted for CVS Caremark and Pizza Hut in major class actions concerning a range of wage and hour issues; with regards to the former client, the firm successfully achieved decertification of a class containing over 60,000 employees. Geoffrey DeBoskey and Sarah Konsky, who were part of the team that worked on the aforementioned matters, now work in-house. Counsel Eric Suits was a new addition from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Named attorneys are spread across Chicago, Palo Alto, Los Angeles and New York.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice is adept at handling complex discrimination cases, senior executive transition and retention issues, and restrictive covenant cases involving non-compete, non-solicitation and trade secret claims as well as issues concerning the forfeiture of stock awards. The team also has experience in FLSA classification and other wage and hour matters. In New York, department head Theodore Rogers is ‘highly rated’ alongside litigator Robin Fessel. The practice continued to represent Goldman Sachs in a major gender discrimination class action involving allegations of women receiving less pay and fewer promotions than their male counterparts. The motion for class certification was denied on recommendation by Magistrate Judge James Francis in 2015 and is pending review in the District Court.

The Dallas-based team at Thompson & Knight LLPprovides quality advice and assists with all legal matters in the most cost-effective manner’. BNSF Railway engaged Bryan Neal, appellate and trial attorney Stephen Fink, and Micah Prude in a number of matters, including FRSA whistleblower discrimination claims and an EEOC challenge to rejecting a job applicant based on a hand impairment that did not comply with safety regulations; the court’s summary judgment found that the applicant was not disabled under the ADA and BNSF, and therefore did not violate the act’s prohibition on the improper use of post-job offer medical evaluations. The team’s ‘in-depth understanding’ extends to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Sarbanes-Oxley and FLSA collective actions. Anthony Campiti leads the practice, which also acts for clients such as Approach Resources, Johnson & Johnson and T-Mobile US. David Ongaro left to establish Ongaro PC Law.

Vedder Price acts for clients such as Warner Music Group, Chevron and Sears Holdings. Chicago-based Thomas Wilde leads the practice, which handled California and nationwide wage and hour class actions, joint employer issues, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs discrimination claims, restrictive covenants in employee agreements, and arbitrations involving executives. San Francisco’s Heather Sager obtained a summary judgment for Hewlett-Packard, involving a high-profile wrongful termination, age and race discrimination, unfair business practices, and whistleblower litigation in the Ninth Circuit. In Chicago, Nicholas Anaclerio and newly promoted shareholder Patrick Spangler are highly regarded. In other personnel changes, Thomas Petrides joined from K&L Gates in Los Angeles, and Lawrence Casazza, Michael Cleveland, Steven Hamann and Theodore Tierney retired from practice. Laura Sack, Roy Salins and Lyle Zuckerman are now with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.


Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): plaintiff

Index of tables

  1. Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): plaintiff
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1
    • David Borgen - Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho
    • Eve Cervantez - Altshuler Berzon
    • James Finberg - Altshuler Berzon
    • Adam Klein - Outten & Golden LLP
    • David Lowe - Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe, LLP
    • Michael Rubin - Altshuler Berzon

Altshuler Berzon has historically serviced employees, labor federations and local and international labor unions, among other clients. Class actions and appeals are core strengths, particularly cases involving discrimination and wage and hours issues. The San Francisco firm fields skilled attorneys, including Michael Rubin, Eve Cervantez, James Finberg, Peder Thoreen and Eileen Goldsmith. Barbara Chisholm and Rubin were part of the team that represented restaurant employees filing four California state law class actions against McDonald’s, with three cases alleging that the chain acts as a joint employer and was responsible for numerous violations, including unpaid overtime, failure to provide rest breaks, and accurate wage statements. In the landmark case Tristan Broussard v First Loan Tower LLC, the firm acted for a transgender man who was fired after his former employer allegedly asked him to sign a document stating that his preference for dressing as a man went against company policy; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was involved in the matter. Peter Nussbaum retired from the partnership in 2015.

At Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Kelly Dermody heads the practice from San Francisco and works alongside Anne Shaver, an expert in class and individual actions involving gender discrimination, especially those in Silicon Valley; wage and hour expert Daniel Hutchinson is highly regarded, as is newly promoted partner Lin Chan. New York’s Rachel Geman is an authority in whistleblower and employment discrimination matters. Dermody, whose practice includes multi and single plaintiff cases, recently acted for clients bringing class action litigation against companies including Pixar, Adobe and Google for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to suppress the wages of technical employees. Another highlight was handling Lusardi v McHugh, which led to the EEOC reversing a lower agency decision surrounding Title VII and transgender discrimination, including the use of restroom facilities. The group is currently serving as co-counsel with Outten & Golden LLP in a gender discrimination class action against Goldman Sachs.

Outten & Golden LLP distributes work between nine employment-focused groups, including the whistleblower and retaliation, financial services and Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act practices. In New York, Adam Klein, Rachel Bien and Justin Swartz head the class and collective actions group, while Wendi Lazar, Laurence Moy and managing partner Wayne Outten lead the individual practice; Cara Greene, Kathleen Peratis and Tammy Marzigliano are also recommended. Alongside Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP’s Seattle and San Francisco offices, the firm filed a gender discrimination class action against Microsoft on behalf of former and current female technical professionals alleging that the company’s policies discriminate against them. In Lee v The Hertz Corporation et al, the group assessed whether criminal background checks conducted by Hertz and SterlingBackcheck (formerly Sterling Infosystems) on job applicants violate federal law. Jahan Sagafi manages the San Francisco office, which hired Jennifer Schwartz from independent practice; Lori Deem is the main contact in Chicago. The New York office promoted Molly Brooks, Katherine Blostein and Juno Turner to partner, and hired Darnley Stewart from Giskan Solotaroff & Anderson LLP as of counsel.

Oakland-based Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho advises on national class and collective actions in the core areas of discrimination, wage and hour violations, and disability access under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Laura Ho, Andrew Lee and newly promoted partner William Jhaveri-Weeks represented drivers in two putative class actions against Uber relating to the company’s use of criminal background checks. David Borgen became of counsel and is noted for enforcing minimum wage and overtime rights under the FLSA and California Labor Code, while James Kan’s expertise includes executive and severance negotiations. Jhaveri-Weeks is a new recruit from Bryan Schwartz Law.

San Francisco-based employment specialist Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe, LLP is a wage and hour class action pioneer. Of counsel Mark Rudy is commended for his mediation skills and recently helped a judge grant preliminary approval to a $7.4m settlement between CVS Pharmacy and a class of over 1,000 pharmacists who brought action against the company for alleged unpaid overtime and working more than six consecutive days. Of counsel Alan Exelrod represented Ellen Pao in a major gender discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; despite Pao dropping her appeal, the case has sparked debate about the number of women working in venture capital and Silicon Valley. Of counsel Steven Zieff, John Mullan, managing partner David Lowe and Chaya Mandelbaum are additional contacts.


Labor-management relations

Index of tables

  1. Labor-management relations
  2. Leading lawyers

Jackson Lewis P.C.’s sizeable team represents clients such as Pfizer, the New York Yankees and Howard University in a broad range of matters, including NLRB elections, neutrality agreements, and force reductions. Philip Rosen now heads the practice with Jonathan Spitz; former head Patrick Vaccaro remains integral to the team. Jeffrey Schwartz won a major case for Murphy Oil that saw the Fifth Circuit reject the NLRB’s DR Horton decision regarding arbitration agreements that waive class actions. Spitz defended G4S Secure Solutions (formerly The Wackenhut Corporation) against claims that terminating two supervisors infringed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Bradley Kampas, Stephen Silvestri and managing principal James Stone are recommended alongside Thomas Piekara and Peter Moss. New hires included Richard Vitarelli and Suellen Oswald, who joined from McCarter & English, LLP and Littler Mendelson, P.C. respectively, and former Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP attorneys Daniel Barker, of counsel James Pease and managing principal Mark Tilkens, who opened the Madison office. Other named practitioners work out of the White Plains, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Baltimore, Hartford and Cleveland offices.

Jones Day team of 130 full-time labor and employment practitioners has vast experience in diverse matters, including NLRB proceedings and appeals, union-organizing campaigns, and Railway Labor Act cases. Stanley Weiner handled class action litigation brought against Century Aluminum by United Steelworkers retirees, which challenged the company’s decision to alter medical benefits afforded to certain retired employees; and Willis Goldsmith represented Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association’s in collective bargaining negotiations over 1,300 employee contracts with Teamsters Local 202, which had authorized a strike over wages and benefits, among other issues. Curt Kirschner, Doreen Davis and Donald Munro are highly regarded, as are Aaron Agenbroad and Brian Easley. David Birnbaum, Patricia Dunn and Jonathan Linas made partner, while Robert Ford and Thomas Jerman retired. Named individuals are based the Chicago, Cleveland, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC offices.

Under John Ring and Joseph Ragaglia, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has garnered praise for its expertise in heavily unionized industries, especially the transport, manufacturing and retail sectors, and it represents clients such as Southwest Airlines, Cliffs Natural Resources, and Walgreens. Jonathan Fritts, senior counsel Charles Cohen and Clifford Sethness were retained by Pacific Maritime Association to advise on multi-employer contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union for thousands of West Coast dockworkers. Fritts, Cohen and litigator Allyson Ho represented the US Chamber of Commerce et al in challenging the NLRB’s rule on accelerating its election process for determining whether employees want union representation. Former NLRB member Harry Johnson joined the Santa Monica office and is lauded for class action defense and traditional labor matters before the agency and federal courts. Ross Friedman, Thomas Reinert, Daniel Bordoni and managing partner Steven Wall have impressive experience. Joseph Santucci joined Schwartz Hannum PC. Named attorneys work in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago.

Proskauer Rose LLP represents clients in a variety of industries, including communications, sports and healthcare. The practice group is now co-chaired by Michael Lebowich and Los Angeles-based Mark Theodore following Ronald Meisburg’s departure to Hunton & Williams LLP. Theodore ‘knows the subject matters backwards and forwards’ and is astute in acting before the NLRB, while Lebowich’s expertise includes collective bargaining and labor issues connected to corporate transactions. Zachary Fasman was engaged by CNN to challenge an NLRB ruling made in September 2014 stating that the network and unionized subcontractor Team Video Services (TVS) acted as joint employers and that the defendant had allegedly violated federal labor law by terminating its relationship with TVS. Neil Abramson acted for the City of New York in several matters, including interest arbitration to resolve its collective bargaining impasse with Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), and defending the City in a challenge by the PBA to a program requiring police officers to wear cameras. Former co-head Bernard Plum, Howard Robbins, L Robert Batterman, Paul Salvatore and Boston-based Scott Faust are additional names to note. Unless stated otherwise, all partners operate out of New York.

Littler Mendelson, P.C. has over 70 years’ experience in handling the full range of matters, including lawful union avoidance, NLRB proceedings and strike preparation. The practice, which is headed by Mark Schneider, John Skonberg and managing shareholder Tanja Thompson, successfully challenged - on behalf of associations representing nationwide homecare providers - the Department of Labor’s narrowing of the definition of ‘companionship services’ exempt from overtime under the FLSA. Robert Millman, Michael Lotito and Stefan Marculewicz are highly experienced contacts. New hires included John Harper from Haynes and Boone, L.L.P., former Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC attorney Richard Wallace and former Fisher & Phillips attorneys who established the Portland, Maine office. Jacqueline Phipps Polito and Jason Stanevich became shareholders, and Donald Prophete went to Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. Named partners are based in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Memphis, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Houston, Morgantown, Rochester, and New Haven.

Boutique firm Ogletree Deakins excels in collective bargaining negotiations, where the group handles subcontracting, retirement plans, wage rate and other issues. It also handles various NLRB and court of appeals proceedings, which range from unlawful termination to unfair labor practice, as well as union organizing matters involving representation and corporate campaigns and NLRB elections. Phoenix-based Mark Kisicki represented Banner Health in its petition to review the NLRB’s decision that stated employers cannot request employees to keep investigatory interviews confidential. Indianapolis-based managing shareholder Kim Ebert heads the team, which also includes Atlanta-based chair emeritus Homer Deakins, and also Rodolfo Agraz, who works out of Dallas and Raleigh. The firm also welcomed Patrick Collins to its New York office from McCarter & English, LLP, while John Merrell was promoted to shareholder in Greenville.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP provides ‘services that reflect deep expertise’. Highlights included representing Republic Services and its subsidiary before the NLRB regarding its standard for determining joint-employer status, and acting for Ashley Furniture Industries in one of the largest private NLRB elections as well as numerous unfair labor practices cases. The ‘outstanding’ Bradford Livingston continues as practice head, but with the departure of Kristin Michaels to McDermott Will & Emery LLP, he has enlisted support of vice-chairs in the form of Brian Stolzenbach and Joshua Henderson. Jeffrey Ross ‘understands corporate in-house challenges’ and senior counsel John Toner ‘has strong personal knowledge of the NLRB’. Joseph Damato, Arthur Telegen, Nick Geannacopulos, Jeffrey Berman and counsel Marshall Babson are recommended. Other team changes include the hires of John Telford and John Lambremont from Littler Mendelson, P.C., the retirement of senior counsel Joel Kaplan, and Henderson and Kyle Hartman making partner. Attorneys are based in Chicago, Los Angeles (Downtown and Century City), San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston and New York.

With a focus on workplace relationships, Baker & Hostetler LLP handles negotiations, arbitrations, and proceedings before the NLRB. Jay Krupin, who heads the practice with Orlando-based Patrick Muldowney, represented the owners of 12 non-unionized New York City hotels that brought a lawsuit against an AFL-CIO subsidiary, the Hotel Association of NYC, and Interstate Hotels & Resorts for allegedly embarking on a unionization scheme to implement a multi-employer collective bargaining contract; Marc Antonetti and recently promoted New York partner Paul Rosenberg also worked on the case. David Grant and Cleveland-based Thomas Seger are key contacts. Ana Salper moved to the NYU Langone Medical Center and Ellen Shadur Gross joined Gipson Hoffman & Pancione. Unless stated otherwise, all practitioners are Washington DC based.

DLA Piper LLP (US) advises unionized and non-unionized clients on improving relations with employees. The firm’s non-unionized clients often seek advice on maintaining a union-free environment, while unionized clients engage the firm for matters including grievances, NLRB representation and union decertification. San Francisco-based David Durham and Chicago of counsel Kevin Connelly filed an amicus brief on behalf of Northwestern University and a coalition of other institutions against student athletes, which sought unionization to become employees under the NLRA. Station Casinos and Chicago Symphony Orchestra are other clients. Chicago and Minneapolis-based Marilyn Pearson, and Washington DC-based Harriet Lipkin, Joseph Anthony Turzi and Nicole Smith have wide-ranging practices. David Durham is the name to note in San Francisco.

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. leads in healthcare matters and was retained by Community Hospital of Long Beach to lead its collective bargaining negotiations with the California Nurses Association. Los Angeles-based Adam Abrahms led on that matter and was also successful in representing Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach and the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in an NLRB hearing against the National Union of Healthcare Workers regarding putative bargaining involving technical employees. The firm is also adept at advising private sector, nonprofit and government employers on corporate campaigns and decertification, among other things. New York’s Steven Swirsky and Chicago’s Mark Trapp are other key contacts. Adam Forman, formerly of Miller Canfield P.L.C., is highly experienced.

Greenberg Traurig, LLPachieves a trifecta of quality, efficiency and availability’ in matters including corporate campaigns, union organizational opposition, and enforcing collective bargaining agreements. Jerrold Goldberg in New York provides ongoing advice to Anbang Insurance following its acquisition of the Waldorf Astoria New York, and recently handled contractual issues between the company and the New York Hotel Trades Council. Whole Foods Market, Time Inc. and Republic Services are other clients. In Boston, Justin Keith, who made shareholder, earned praise alongside managing shareholder Terence McCourt for possessing ‘in-depth knowledge of the law’. Jonathan Sulds, Joseph Fleming, Charles Birenbaum and Erik Rodriguez, who work in New York, Miami, San Francisco and Atlanta respectively, are well regarded. Arturo Ross recently joined in Miami from Littler Mendelson, P.C..

A leader in the airline sector, O’Melveny & Myers LLP has built up a roster of clients that includes United Airlines, Republic Airways, and also Island Air, which is a new client along with Juilliard School and Respawn Entertainment. Robert Siegel, Aparna Joshi and Mark Robertson defended American Airlines against former flight attendants, who brought a putative class action on behalf of thousands of individuals after their travel perks were changed as a result of American’s merger with US Airways. Michael McGuinness and Jeffrey Kohn represented Gate Gourmet in challenging the NLRB’s jurisdiction to hear a matter regarding whether the Service Employees International Union can represent units of cleaning employees in two airports. Chris Hollinger is another strong attorney. Named attorneys are based in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.

Paul Hastings LLP’s impressive client list includes Fujifilm, LinkedIn and Bank of America. American Apparel recently engaged Los Angeles-based Elena Baca to handle various matters, including NLRB cases, challenges to the company’s legal notices in its force reductions, and a $40m wrongful termination claim brought against the retailer by former CEO Dov Charney. Baca also represented the company in labor demonstrations calling for Charney’s return. In San Francisco, Robert Kristoff assisted Hollywood Park Land - a joint venture between Stockbridge Capital Group and Wilson Meany - with negotiating a labor agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and unions affiliated to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor regarding the development and operation of a stadium and performing arts center. Stephen Berry and Nancy Abell are the names to note in Orange County and Los Angeles.

Attorneys at Reed Smith LLPreally roll up their sleeves and take ownership of the project or problem’. Clients include Shell Oil, Tenet Healthcare, UPS and other large employers. Philadelphia-based Joel Barras obtained a permanent mass picketing injunction for Columbia Gas Transmission against protestors from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542-C relating to a pipeline expansion project. Karl Fritton, who splits his time between Chicago and Philadelphia, is particularly active in contract negotiations and attracted work from a number of healthcare clients. NLRB litigator and arbitrator Gary Tocci and John DiNome in Philadelphia are also highly regarded. In Pittsburgh, Eugene Connors ‘has a wealth of experience dealing with representatives of union locals’, and stands out with senior counsel William Bevan. New York’s David Weissman is another name to note.


Workplace and employment counseling

Index of tables

  1. Workplace and employment counseling
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Joseph Costello’s ‘superb’ practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP excels at corporate compliance, California’s paid sick leave legislation, workplace investigations, and numerous other matters. Advising AMC on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s hazard communication requirements was a highlight for Jonathan Snare and Michelle Seldin Silverman. The client roster also includes Facebook, Morgan Stanley and The Hershey Company. David Bowman leads the resources workplace training practice and stands outs alongside David McManus, a ‘wonderful adviser and brilliant negotiator’ and corporate diversity expert Grace Speights. Carol Freeman and Ross Friedman are also leading figures. In recent team changes, Jacqueline Aguilera, Debra Fischer, and Douglas Schwarz joined as part of the firm’s acquisition of Bingham McCutchen, Harry Johnson arrived from the National Labor Relations Board, Ann Marie Arcadi came from K&L Gates and Michael Schlemmer made partner. Named individuals work in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Silicon Valley, Princeton, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Dallas and Chicago. Rebecca Eisen and Rene Johnson retired, and William Doyle joined McGuireWoods LLP.

Paul Hastings LLP’s strengths include handling employment issues arising out of corporate transactions, compliance and advising on access requirements under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, Washington-based Kenneth Willner is skilled in designing and validating pre-employment tests. Kenneth Gage, who splits his time between New York and Chicago, recently handled several domestic force reductions and successfully avoided discrimination lawsuits and Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act issues for US and multinational clients across a range of sectors. Recent work also includes labor negotiations, The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) evaluations, trade secrets and diversity initiatives. The diverse client base includes American Airlines, Bank of America and Target. In Los Angeles, Nancy Abell, Al Latham, and Heather Morgan are highly regarded. Kirby Wilcox and Jon Geier are other names to note in San Francisco and Chicago respectively. Geoff Weirich recently launched Weirich Consulting & Mediation.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s new departmental structure enables clients, including The New York Times, McGraw Hill Financial and the NBA, to access specific advice through separate practices, such as the California employment law, immigration and strategic corporate planning groups. These teams regularly advise on new regulations put in place by state or local authorities as well as on federal changes introduced by the OFCCP, Department of Labor (DOL) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Advising a mass media conglomerate on employee transfers connected to selling a business was a recent work highlight as it required cross-border consultations. Katharine Parker and Allan Weitzman are key contacts in the group, which provides ‘tremendous value for money’ and lawyers in multiple US offices. Co-head of the international law and employment law practice Erika Collinsis an exceptional lawyer’. Other key names include Bettina Plevan, Nigel Telman, Kathleen McKenna, Keisha-Ann Gray and Connie Bertram. OFCCP expert Guy Brenner recently made partner.

At Seyfarth Shaw LLP, David Baffa’s team ‘does not disappoint’, with the ‘outstanding’ Ellen McLaughlin, Pamela Devata, who is ‘devoted to ensuring her client’s needs are always met’, and Condon McGlothlen being leading practitioners in Chicago. ‘Excellent resources such as SeyfarthLink’ optimize the group’s services and form part of the business model of SeyfarthLean, which concentrates on business objectives set by clients and innovative technology solutions. Several clients, including a large grocery retailer and a financial services company, utilized this approach for monitoring accommodation requests under the ADA and Family and Medical Leave Act. Matters concerning employee classification, data breaches, auditing the policies of companies and hiring test assessments formed part of the varied workload. In New York, Robert Nobile and William Perkins are revered, as are senior counsels Lawrence Lorber and Debbie Caplan, who has a ‘tremendous amount of expertise’, in Washington DC and Los Angeles respectively. Partner promotions saw Chelsea Mesa, Johanna Wise and Giselle Donado made up in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago respectively. Boston-based Cindy Westervelt’s arrival from independent practice and Paul Kehoe’s departure to Booz Allen Hamilton were some changes at senior counsel level.

Under Susan Eandi and Scott Nelson, Baker McKenzie LLP’s ‘talented group of attorneys’ excels in US and cross-border issues involving M&A and post-acquisition integrations and restructurings. The practice is ‘among the best for global work’ and is retained by multinationals such as FedEx, Mozilla Corporation and Cameron International. Eandi assisted Hewlett-Packard with the employment aspects of separating its PC and printer business from its software and corporate hardware offering. Douglas Darch ‘works well with clients’, Cynthia Jackson is rated by some as ‘the best’, the ‘phenomenal’ Robert Lewis ‘gets to the heart of the issue’, and Richard Hammett and Nelson provide ‘skilled advice’. Carole Spink, Robert Mignin, Jennifer Field, James Baker and Joseph Deng are also highly regarded. Celina Joachim returned to the firm from Direct Energy, of counsel Kevin Whittaker joined from Reed Smith LLP and Arthur Rooney arrived from Seyfarth Shaw LLP. Benjamin Ho, Jordan Faykus and Ryan Vann were made up to partner. Named practitioners work out of Houston, Chicago, Palo Alto, San Francisco and New York.

Jones Day’s expertise includes non-discriminatory reductions in force and plant closures connected to divestitures, termination risks, conducting investigations into sexual harassment, compliance, misconduct, and developing policies and procedures to reduce litigation risks. Cleveland’s Stanley Weiner and Washington DC’s employee benefits and executive compensation expert Kevin Noble advised a US client on transfer rights and other matters relating to pension and retiree medical programs involved in spinning-off a division unit from the larger business. Lawrence DiNardo and Michael Gray in Chicago, San Diego’s Rick Bergstrom, Silicon Valley-based Fred Alvarez and Atlanta’s Deborah Sudbury are the primary contacts. In New York, Terri Chase and Doreen Davis were joined by Martin Schmelkin from Goldman Sachs and Kari Levine retired in San Francisco.

As a ‘go-to law firm for executive employment issues’, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP specializes in matters arising out of M&A, corporate restructuring and bankruptcies, as well as large-scale force reductions, ERISA issues, restrictive covenants and C-Suite terminations. The ‘outstanding’ Jeffrey Klein is a ‘pragmatic litigator, who seeks solutions’, and Gary Friedman is also well respected. Counsel Lawrence Baer is an authority on issues faced by debtor employers; he recently assisted The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in New York, which involved substantial restructuring in order to sell store locations and satisfy over $1.2bn in secured debt. In other recent work, Klein advised on the terminations of four senior employees for Perella Weinberg Partners after the company learned that they planned to start a competing business; the matter is now in the Supreme Court and concerns the forfeited equity and deferred compensation that took place as a result of the terminations. Millie Warner was promoted to counsel in New York, where all recommended attorneys are based. Mark Jacoby retired from the partnership.

Davis & Gilbert LLP’s ‘knowledge of US employment law in all jurisdictions, not just New York, is excellent’. Gregg Gilman and Howard Rubin head the New York-based team, where expertise includes compensation and incentive agreements, protecting public image, securing employees through retention strategies, and handling issues presented by social media and new technologies. It has ‘unmatched advertising industry knowledge’ and assisted INVNT’s senior management with negotiating terms for employment agreements involved in the agency’s sale to Time Inc. Other clients include BNP Paribas, Time Warner Cable and PR Newswire. Gilman, Daniel Feinstein and Gregg Brochin are ‘experienced and practical problem solvers’. Jessica Golden Cortes and employee benefits and executive compensation specialist Alan Hahn are also noted. The ‘amazing’ Shira Franco made partner and ‘excellent negotiator’ David Fisher was promoted to counsel.

The lawyers at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.do a lot of the “heavy lifting” required’. The diverse client base ranges from the New York Yankees to Fox News and JPMorgan. Jeffrey Landes is representing Dolce & Gabbana in an ongoing putative class action relating to the payment of interns. In addition, George Carroll Whipple, who recently joined from Credit Suisse, and William Milani, who provides ‘exceptional client service’, advise Credit Suisse Securities (USA) on preventing personnel disputes. Ian Carleton Schaefer, Newark-based Maxine Neuhauser and Jeremy Brown are highly regarded. New hires include Marc Mandelman, Joshua Stein and Washington DC’s Nathaniel Glasser from Proskauer Rose LLP. Unless otherwise stated, all named attorneys are based in New York.

The ‘extremely responsive and client-focusedGreenberg Traurig, LLP provides day-to-day advice to employers on compliance, training, ADA issues, workplace safety and environmental laws, and on drafting employment agreements. Washington DC’s Johnine Barnes represented Bayhealth Medical Center in a disability discrimination and wrongful termination suit and continues to advise the client on a number of matters. Wolverine World Wide, AARP and The Hillsborough County Civil Service Board are other clients. Kelly Dobbs Bunting in Philadelphia ‘provides valuable advice’ and comes highly recommended along with New Jersey’s Wendy Johnson Lario and Kristine Feher. ‘Go-to’ Atlanta attorney John Richards was promoted to shareholder and new hires include Shira Yoshor and Patrick Martin, who joined in Houston and Miami from Baker Botts L.L.P. and Littler Mendelson, P.C. respectively.

Boutique Jackson Lewis P.C. divides its counseling capabilities into separate practices, including Weldon Latham’s corporate diversity counseling and Francis Alvarez’s disability, leave and health management groups. Other areas of focus are corporate governance and internal investigations, workplace training and privacy, and e-communication and data security. The firm was recently retained by a retail store chain to revamp its leave and accommodation procedures and in another matter, the group represented a wholesale company in a DOL audit. Pfizer, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Anheuser-Busch are key clients. Philip Rosen, Richard Greenberg, Elayna Youchah, Joseph Lazzarotti, Margaret Strange and Portsmouth managing principal Debra Weiss Ford are also key members of the team, which is spread across multiple offices.

In 2015, boutique Littler Mendelson, P.C. established web-based platforms ComplianceHR and Littler X-celerator, which enable in-house lawyers, HR professionals and emerging companies to make fast decisions on matters such as hiring independent contractors, while ensuring compliance with state and federal laws is met. Seattle-based Katherine Franklin’s expertise includes harassment prevention training and investigations, while Washington DC’s Stefan Marculewicz focuses on advising multinational corporations on addressing and responding to international labor standards. George Chaffey in Walnut Creek and David Goldstein in Minneapolis jointly lead the OFCCP practice group and are recommended alongside New Haven’s George O’Brien, who represented the University of Connecticut in collective bargaining for a first contract with the United Automobile Workers. Recent personnel changes saw Los Angeles-based Naomi Seddon promoted to shareholder, and Atlanta’s Leslie Dent and Beth Moeller arrive from Paul Hastings LLP and Ogletree Deakins respectively. Suellen Oswald and Frank Melton departed to Jackson Lewis P.C., and David Goldman joined Congregation Emanu-El.

In 2015, Ogletree Deakins launched The Innovations Center, a service for in-house and HR professionals combining knowledge management tools and compliance solutions in a series of products, including O-D Comply and IntelliCase. Timothy Garnett, managing director Joseph Beachboard, Margaret Campbell, Ron Chapman and David Powell are the main contacts. Leigh Nason chairs the affirmative action and OFCCP compliance group and is also revered. Robert Jones and of counsel Carolyn Hall successfully defended Vitran Express against a class of California truck drivers, which claimed that its policies on rest and meal breaks were defective after alleging that breaks were discouraged or thwarted by Vitran. Team changes include Robert Shea’s hire from Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, PC, Diana Nehro’s promotion to shareholder and Jathan Janove leaving to establish Janove Organization Solutions. Shareholders are spread across San Francisco, Torrance, Los Angeles, Boston, Stamford, Columbia, St Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Denver and Indianapolis.


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