Employee benefits, executive compensation and retirement plans: design in United States

Groom Law Group, Chartered

With an established base in Washington DC, boutique firm Groom Law Group, Chartered has notable strength across the full range of employee benefits and executive compensation services. Stephen Saxon is a standout name in the team, recommended for handling Title 1 issues pertaining to 401(k) investment services, and advising tax-exempt clients on IRS audits. Among the team's most celebrated attorneys are Jon Breyfogle, a leading figure for health and welfare issues, and David Levine, who advises plan sponsors on the redesign of retirement, health and welfare and executive plans. Other key figures in the team include Lisa Campbell, another health and welfare specialist; ERISA fiduciary compliance expert Jennifer EllerLouis Mazawey, who advises insurance companies and plan sponsor clients on the tax aspects of employee benefits matters; Brigen Winters, who is highly regarded for his expertise in advising employers, financial institutions and plan administrators on legislative policies; and ACA expert Seth Perretta.

Practice head(s):

David Levine; Seth Perretta; Jon Breyfogle; Lisa Campbell; Brigen Winters; Jennifer Eller

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Saxon; Elizabeth Dold; Mark Lofgren; Louis Mazawey; Michael Kreps

Key clients

Seattle Times

The McClatchy Company

March of Dimes

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Jointly led by Craig Bitman in New York and Philadelphia-based deputy practice head Amy Pocino Kelly, the team at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has an excellent reputation across the full range of employee benefits and executive compensation services. Althea Day and Daniel Salemi (based in Washington DC and Chicago, respectively) are the key contacts for the firm's multi-employer plan offering; Day regularly advises contributing sponsors and multi-employer funds in this space, and Salemi is recommended for multi-employer pension withdrawal liability issues. Executive compensation issues, including Section 409A compliance, are handled by Washington DC-based Rosina Barker, and Mary Hevener in New York advises on fringe benefits and tax-related matters. Chicago-based of counsel Sage Fattahian is a key name for health and welfare plans. Elizabeth Goldberg was promoted to partner in Pittsburgh in October 2020.

Practice head(s):

Craig Bitman; Amy Pocino Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Althea Day; Daniel Salemi; Rosina Barker; Elizabeth Goldberg; Mary Hevener; Sage Fattahian


Knowledgeable and responsive team with expertise across all areas of benefits and executive compensation‘.

Key clients

The Kroger Company

CSX Corporation

Howard Hughes Medical Institute


BioSpecifics Technologies Corp.

Talen Energy

Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA)

Work highlights

  • Assisting a suite of clients from a broad range of sectors with the provisions of proposed Covid-19 stimulus provisions across all areas of employee benefits.
  • Advising Maersk on all US employee benefit matters, including single-employer pension and defined contribution retirement plans and multi-employer plan liability.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Predominantly based in Washington DC, Proskauer Rose LLP fields an extensive team of lawyers with experience across all manner of employee benefits and executive compensation matters. Paul Hamburger has extensive expertise in IRS audits, 401(k) retirement plans, defined benefit plans and executive compensation agreements; he shares leadership of the practice with New York-based Robert Projansky, who has an excellent reputation for advising companies from the entertainment industry on the full range of employee benefits matters. Seth Safra acts as counsel to prominent corporations on health and welfare programs, and is equally adept at advising tax-exempt and governmental employers on 403(b) and 457 plans. New York-based Anthony Cacace acts as fund counsel to prominent multi-employer plan funds and fiduciaries. Senior counsel Justin Alex has experience in advising financial sponsors and employers on multi-employer pension plans.

Practice head(s):

Paul Hamburger; Robert Projansky

Other key lawyers:

Seth Safra; Anthony Cacace; Justin Alex


They are collaborative, knowledgeable and professional. They are totally responsive to clients’ concerns and oftentimes anticipate them‘.

Rob Projansky is very knowledgeable in this complex area of the law. He is articulate, diligent, personable and exceptional at anticipating concerns/problems and suggesting potential solutions for Board consideration. He is a consummate legal professional‘.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s benefits practice has a strong presence in major commercial centers across the country. Contacts in Chicago include Diane Dygert, who heads up the practice group, and Benjamin Conley, a name to note for HIPAA compliance, defined benefit/contribution plan compliance, and health and welfare plans. In New York, Richard Schwartz is noted for his expertise in defined contribution matters, and advises healthcare sector entities on dealings with the DOL and IRS, plan governance, fiduciary issues, and deferred and executive compensation matters. Also in New York, associate Chelsea McCue has experience in 401(k) plan designs, ESOPs, Affordable Care Act compliance, and non-qualified deferred compensation plans. A contact on the West Coast is Seattle-based Liz Deckman, who advises on all aspects of tax-qualified plans. In December 2020 Jake Downing moved to the Chicago office of King & Spalding LLP.

Practice head(s):

Diane Dygert

Other key lawyers:

Richard Schwartz; Benjamin Conley; Liz Deckman; Chelsea McCue

Key clients

Cantel Medical

David Yurman Enterprise LLC


Open Society Institute

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated

Work highlights

  • Assisted a food producer and manufacturer with restating its two 401(k) plans.
  • Advising a US non-profit healthcare system on the design and implementation of its 457(b), 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and is currently assisting the client with a de-risking exercise.
  • Assisted a private university with a DOL audit of one of its retirement plans, and advised the client on implementing design changes related to its retiree medical program.

Winston & Strawn LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP has an excellent reputation for its strengths across the gamut of employee benefits issues, acting for an impressive client roster of public and private companies. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is one such client; the group provides daily fiduciary advice to the Association relating to its pension and 401(k) plans. Joe Adams is currently assisting the Association with fiduciary issues concerning a value loss, as well as requesting prohibited transaction exemptions from the DOL. Susan Nash and Amy Gordon have extensive expertise in health and welfare benefit plans, including compliance with the Affordable Care Act and HIPAA policies. Nancy Gerrie and David Rogers (managing partner of the Washington DC office) are also highly regarded in this area, as is Steve Flores, who focuses on executive compensation. Named attorneys are based in Chicago unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Nancy Gerrie; Scott Landau

Other key lawyers:

David Rogers; Steve Flores; Amy Gordon; Susan Nash; Joe Adams; Anne Becker

Key clients


Applied Materials, Inc.

Baptist Health South Florida

Baxter International Inc.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association


Carnival Corporation

Embraer Aircraft Holdings

ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC)

Federal Signal Corporation

Fresh Direct


Holland America Group

IKEA Purchasing

Illinois Tool Works

Listerhill Total Maintenance Center

Molson Coors Brewing Company

Northern Trust


Restaurant Brands International

Rialto Capital Management

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Sixt Rent a Car LLC

Unity Point Health

Arent Fox LLP

Arent Fox LLP's Washington DC-based benefits team 'consistently provides thorough and practical solutions' to a solid client list of non-profit organizations and companies from the hospitality, media, sporting and consumer goods sectors, among others. The firm has established expertise in fixing broken employee benefits plans, and is equally well versed in handling deferred compensation plans, health and welfare plans, ESOPs, fringe benefit matters and defined benefits plans. Practice head Quana Jew 'delivers practical and accurate solutions-oriented advice pertaining to qualified and non-qualified retirement plan benefits'. Counsel William Charyk garners praise for his 'exceptional guidance pertaining to executive compensation arrangements'.

Practice head(s):

Quana Jew

Other key lawyers:

William Charyk


Arent Fox is a terrific firm to deal with in this area of law‘.

Quana Jew delivers practical and accurate solutions-oriented advice pertaining to qualified and non-qualified retirement plan benefits. Magical at working with the DOL and IRS to resolve complex matters‘.

Bill Charyk delivers exceptional guidance pertaining to executive compensation arrangements. He seems to be one step ahead in his strategies‘.

Quana Jew and Bill Charyk – both are leaders in this field of law and understand what it takes to deliver full client service‘.

Quana Jew and William Charyk are incredibly quick to respond to issues‘.

Key clients

Monsanto Company/Bayer Corporation

RTI International

American Bankers Association

Vox Media


Lavazza Professional

Carl Zeiss, Inc.

Choice Hotels International

Monumental Sports & Entertainment

Panda Restaurant Group

Work highlights

  • Acts as outside benefits counsel to retirement watchdog organization AARP.
  • Provides ongoing advice to Vox Media on all of its employee benefits plans, spanning fringe benefit, retirement, and health and welfare plans.
  • Advising Monumental Sports & Entertainment on its retirement and welfare benefits.

Baker McKenzie LLP

San Francisco-based Barbara Klementz and Chicago-based Maura Ann McBreen jointly head the team at Baker McKenzie LLP, which provides comprehensive advice on employee benefit and executive compensation issues, including equity compensation, ERISA fiduciary compliance, and equity incentive plan redesign and 409A matters. Other key partners are Kela Shang in Palo Alto, who advises public and private companies on equity compensation plans, and Sinead Kelly in San Francisco, who handles executive compensation work.

Practice head(s):

Barbara Klementz; Maura Ann McBreen

Other key lawyers:

Kela Shang; Sinead Kelly


Barbara’s knowledge in the field is close to none. I also appreciate her availability when we need her (sometimes in very short notice). She is detailed and very articulate‘.

Ballard Spahr LLP

Ballard Spahr LLP's practice is well known in the market for its solid capabilities in advising on health and welfare benefit plans and defined benefit pension plans; ESOPs and executive compensation are also key strengths for the team. Practice head Brian Pinheiro has noted expertise in assisting an extensive portfolio of tax-exempt organizations with 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans, 280G golden parachute rules, and health and welfare benefit matters. Counsel Edward Leeds advises on Affordable Care Act and HIPAA compliance issues. Minneapolis-based associate Jessica DuBois is recommended for advising corporate and non-profit employers on the design of deferred compensation plans. Named lawyers are based in Philadelphia unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Brian Pinheiro

Other key lawyers:

Edward Leeds; Jessica DuBois

Key clients

The Chemours Company

NRG Energy Inc.

Temple University/Temple University Health System

Republic Services, Inc.

American Red Cross


Wawa, Inc.

CSL Behring LLC

Ricoh USA, Inc.

Union Pacific Corporation

Covington & Burling LLP

The team at Covington & Burling LLP has a reputation for advising a broad client roster of global corporations and emerging companies on a wide range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including fiduciary governance, pension de-risking strategies, and restructuring retiree medical benefit programs. Key names are Michael Francese and senior counsel Richard Shea, both based in Washington DC.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP

As chair of McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s Chicago-based benefits practice, Todd Solomon advises tax-exempt entities and public and private companies on deferred compensation arrangements, ERISA fiduciary issues and ESOPs. Lisa Loesel has expertise in 401(k) plan design and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements. In Boston, Andrew Liazos provides 'practical and thoughtful solutions' to executive compensation matters, which he regularly handles for senior executives. The group also acts for healthcare and private equity clients.

Practice head(s):

Todd Solomon

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Liazos; Lisa Loesel

Key clients


Crate & Barrel

Darden Restaurants



Industrial & Commercial Bank of China

Keurig Dr Pepper

KONE Corporation


Liberty Mutual

Work highlights

  • Advising Crate & Barrel on the impact of the CARES Act on its retirement plans.
  • Providing ongoing assistance to Darden Restaurants with the termination of its defined benefit plan.
  • Assisted Keurig Dr Pepper with a DOL investigation involving missing participant issues.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Melanie Nussdorf and Paul Ondrasik jointly lead the employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Steptoe & Johnson LLP. The duo have particular strength in acting as counsel to a client roster of financial institutions, insurance firms, broker-dealers, trade associations and healthcare companies on DOL investigations and prohibited transaction exemptions. Eric Serron is a key name in the team for ERISA fiduciary compliance matters. All named attorneys are based in Washington DC.

Practice head(s):

Paul Ondrasik; Melanie Nussdorf

Other key lawyers:

Eric Serron


Melanie Nussdorf is exceptional. She has encyclopedic knowledge of the law, and a nimble approach to application‘.

Key clients

Deutsche Bank

Goldman Sachs

Credit Suisse


Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 of Virginia Pension and Health & Welfare Funds

Work highlights

  • Providing ongoing advice to a range of global banks, broker-dealers and asset managers on developing global fee disclosures required under new ERISA regulations, including handling DOL investigations and filing for exemptive relief from prohibited transactions.
  • Acting as counsel to the Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 of Virginia Pension and Health & Welfare Funds’ Board of Trustees.

Baker & Hostetler LLP

Baker & Hostetler LLP’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice primarily operates from the firm's offices in Columbus and Cleveland. Multi-employer plans are an established pillar of strength for the group; healthcare, insurance and manufacturing sector mandates have been prominent in the team's recent workload. Georgeann Peters acts as long-standing ERISA counsel to Houston Methodist on health and welfare plans, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, and executive compensation matters, and recently assisted the client with deferred and incentive compensation plans. On the health and welfare side, Ann Caresani and Jennifer Mills are names to note. Raymond Malone and Susan Lubow jointly head the practice group.

Practice head(s):

Raymond Malone; Susan Lubow

Other key lawyers:

Georgeann Peters; Ann Caresani; Jennifer Mills

Key clients

Teleflex Incorporated

Trinity Health Corporation

Gannett Company, Inc.

Medical Mutual of Ohio

Houston Methodist

Dechert LLP

At Dechert LLP, Andrew Oringer and Steven Rabitz advise a suite of global investment banks, mutual funds, broker-dealers and trust companies on an ongoing basis regarding the introduction and subsequent repeal of the DOL fiduciary rule. Oringer also has established expertise in advising financial institutions on ERISA fiduciary matters. Named individuals are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Oringer

Other key lawyers:

Steven Rabitz

Key clients

Sterling Investment Partners

FS Investments

Cerberus Capital Management

Covis Pharma

One Equity Partners

Quilvest Capital Partners

Ahead DB Holdings

US Ecology


Quest Diagnostics Incorporated


Martin Moderson heads up Dentons' employee benefits and executive compensation practice, where he assists employers with the design of qualified retirement plans and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements; he also has noted expertise in advising ERISA-governed plan investment and administrative committees on fiduciary issues. Another contact in the team is Katharina Babich, who focuses on health and welfare plans and HIPAA compliance. In Washington DC, Michael Maryn handles deferred compensation plans, ESOPs and 401(k) plans, and has expertise in advising tax-exempt organizations with executive compensation issues, including 403(b) and 457 plan advice. Apart from Maryn, all named individuals are based in Kansas City.

Practice head(s):

Martin Moderson

Other key lawyers:

Michael Maryn; Katharina Babich

Key clients

Double Verify, Inc.

Atlantic Global Risk LLC

Verity Hospital System



Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. has an established track record in handling healthcare and life sciences mandates, and is equally adept at assisting entities from the telecoms, financial services, and technology sectors with a wide range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters. Michelle Capezza assists non-profit entities, public companies and individual executives with deferred compensation agreements, ERISA fiduciary obligations, and qualified retirement plans. Sharon Lippett acts as counsel to fiduciaries in implementing policies for the investment of retirement plan assets. Also recommended is Christopher McMican in Detroit, who counts ERISA compliance issues, HIPAA matters, and defined benefit plans among his areas of expertise. Named attorneys are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

David Garland

Other key lawyers:

Christopher McMican; Michelle Capezza; Sharon Lippett

Eversheds Sutherland

Predominantly based in Washington DC, Eversheds Sutherland's practice garners praise for its 'exceptional depth of knowledge across benefits, retirement, and executive matters'. A client roster of financial institutions, insurance entities and manufacturing sector companies regularly turn to the team for advice on equity compensation matters and qualified and non-qualified retirement plans. Vanessa Scott is noted for her expertise in ERISA fiduciary matters and health and welfare plans, and Carol McClarnon is rated by clients for her 'deep technical knowledge of the ERISA space'. Practice head Adam Cohen is 'excellent in his counsel, and excels in his understanding of industry trends and his mastery of all regulatory requirements'. Tax expert Brenna Clark is a key name in the Atlanta office. In November 2020, Robert Neis moved to Deloitte Tax LLP.

Practice head(s):

Adam Cohen

Other key lawyers:

Vanessa Scott; Carol McClarnon; Brenna Clark


Their willingness to work through practical solutions with the business goal in mind is invaluable‘.

The employee benefits team at Eversheds Sutherland is knowledgeable, creative, efficient, easy to work with and always accessible. They understand the financial services industry and its challenges‘.

Adam Cohen is so strong at his ability to layer, detail by detail, the complexities of a topic‘.

Adam Cohen is delightful to work with. Incredibly knowledgeable, practical, reachable, no ego, just a great partner. He gets to the heart of the issue quickly, and sees things from the client’s perspective‘.

Key clients

HR Policy Association

US Chamber of Commerce

Work highlights

  • Acts as primary outside health and welfare plan counsel to the HR Policy Association.
  • Provides ongoing advice to the US Chamber of Commerce on general regulatory and legislative changes in the employee benefits and executive compensation area, as well as retirement plan issues.


Executive compensation matters form the backbone of Goodwin's practice. In Silicon Valley, Lynda Galligan advises a solid client roster of emerging companies in the life sciences and technology sectors on all aspects of executive compensation issues, including equity-incentive plans. Galligan shares leadership of the practice with Washington DC-based Patrick Menasco, who is recognized here for his advice to international financial institutions on Title 1 issues, including DOL investigations and prohibited transaction exemptions. Scott Webster retired in October 2020.

Practice head(s):

Lynda Galligan; Patrick Menasco

Key clients

Affirm, Inc.

Blue Jeans Network, Inc.

Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc.

Guidewire Software Inc.

Machine Zone, Inc.

ModernaTX, Inc.

Quora, Inc.

Slack Technologies

TA Associates

Twilio, Inc.

Greenberg Traurig LLP

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice has solid expertise in handling ERISA fiduciary compliance matters, defined benefit plan redesign and terminations, IRS and DOL audits, and group health plan design mandates. In Silicon Valley, Magan Ray has an established track record in acting as outside benefits counsel to Google, advising on the spectrum of employee benefits matters, deferred compensation strategies and all issues pertaining to health and welfare programs. Leslie Klein in Chicago and Jeffrey Mamorsky in New York jointly head the practice. Associate Stephanie Ahmad is another key contact in the Silicon Valley office.

Practice head(s):

Leslie Klein; Jeffrey Mamorsky

Other key lawyers:

Magan Ray; Stephanie Ahmad

Key clients






Work highlights

  • Acts as long-serving outside ERISA counsel to Snap (owner of Snapchat, Spectacles, and Bitmoji), recently advising on benefit plan design options related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Acting as outside benefits counsel to Amazon, providing ongoing advice on the structuring of its on-site clinics.

Ivins, Phillips & Barker

Kevin O’Brien leads Ivins, Phillips & Barker's Washington DC-based employee benefits and executive compensation practice, which is well known for its focus on employer-side mandates. The client roster includes technology, manufacturing, energy and retail sector names. Of recent note, the group reports an uptick in plan redesign work, particularly on the defined benefit plan side. In addition, it is equally adept at assisting with health and welfare benefits and deferred compensation arrangements. Also recommended in the team are Robin Solomon, who has extensive expertise in ERISA fiduciary issues; Jodi Epstein, a contact for defined benefit and 401(k) plans; and Ben Grosz, who is experienced in handling pension de-risking strategies.

Practice head(s):

Kevin O’Brien

Other key lawyers:

Robin Solomon; Jodi Epstein; Ben Grosz

Key clients


OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network)

Los Angeles Philharmonic

General Mills

Middle River Aerostructure Systems

Nissan North America

US Golf Association

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Defined benefit plans form a core pillar of Jackson Lewis P.C.'s practice; healthcare, energy, construction and hospitality sector mandates have been prominent in the team's recent caseload. South Carolina-based Suzanne Odom handles 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans and ESOPs, and has particular expertise in assisting tax-exempt organizations. Practice head Joy Napier-Joyce, who is based in Baltimore, advises on ERISA compliance, IRS and DOL audits, and HIPAA compliance issues.

Practice head(s):

Joy Napier-Joyce

Other key lawyers:

Suzanne Odom

Key clients


Clarks Shoes

Leonardo DRS Technologies

Mayer Brown

The team at Mayer Brown counts pension plan investment work as a key pillar of the practice, and has been kept particularly busy advising on defined benefit plans. Palo Alto-based practice head Maureen Gorman handles de-risking exercises, DOL and IRS audits and ERISA fiduciary matters. Other key names are Lennine Occhino and counsel Rebecca Davenport, both based in the Chicago office.

Practice head(s):

Maureen Gorman

Other key lawyers:

Lennine Occhino; Rebecca Davenport

Key clients

Assured Guaranty

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Dow Chemical


The Hartford Financial Group

Northern Trust Corporation

Rose Packing Company


Work highlights

  • Provides ongoing assistance to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce with its US-based qualified and health and welfare plans.
  • Assisted a global real estate fund manager with structuring a real estate investment vehicle designed for defined contribution plan investors.
  • Advised Bristol-Myers Squibb on the termination of a $4bn pension plan.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

The employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is recognized for its expertise in defined benefit plans, 401(k) plan advice, deferred compensation plan compliance issues and ERISA fiduciary matters. San Francisco-based Christine Richardson is a key figure for ERISA issues in particular. while Jonathan Ocker (also in the San Francisco) is well known for advising on ‘pay-on-say’ votes for executive remuneration. In New York, Peter Hunt provides ongoing assistance to The Estée Lauder Companies with 401(k) and defined benefit plans, most recently on compliance matters. Practice head Cindy Schlaefer is based in Silicon Valley.

Practice head(s):

Cindy Schlaefer

Other key lawyers:

Christine Richardson; Jonathan Ocker; Peter Hunt

Key clients



Chevron Corporation

Cisco Systems

Fujitsu Corporation

The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.

Clearwater Paper Corporation

General Reinsurance Corporation


Rabbit Hole Spirits, LLC

NTT Data, Inc.

Incyte Corporation

Thompson Hine LLP

Primarily operating from the firm's Cincinnati office, Thompson Hine LLP's employee benefits practice has been kept busy advising healthcare, financial services, technology, manufacturing, media and energy sector clients on the full spectrum of benefits matters. Among its core areas of expertise, the group handles deferred compensation plans, non-qualified retirement plans, 401(k) defined benefit retirement plans, and group health and wellness programs (including compliance with HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act). Laura Ryan, Kim Wilcoxon, David Whaley and Timothy Brown are the names to note. Practice head Julia Ann Love is based in the Cleveland office.

Practice head(s):

Julia Ann Love

Other key lawyers:

Laura Ryan; Kim Wilcoxon; David Whaley; Timothy Brown


Timothy Brown and Kim Wilcoxon: both partners of the firm provide tremendous value to our organization with their insight, careful document review, and willingness to jump on the phone if needed or engage with others within our organization or theirs to bring the right subject matter expert to the table. They are open to alternative points of view and willing to work with us to reach solutions that work best for the company while maintaining compliance with the myriad employee benefit rules‘.

Key clients

Nouryon Chemicals LLC

Cardinal Health

McDonald’s Corporation

NCR Corporation

Quest Diagnostics


Akzo Nobel

Eaton Corporation

Work highlights

  • Assisting McDonald’s with its 401(k) plan and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements, including Section 409A matters.
  • Assisting Quest Diagnostics with all aspects of its self-insured group health plan.
  • Providing advice to Nouryon Chemicals on design and compliance issues relating to qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, and health and welfare plans, including compliance with 409A, the Affordable Care Act and HIPAA.

Vedder Price

Vedder Price's employee benefits and executive compensation practice is led by Christopher Collins, who assists executives and companies with the design of equity compensation and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, and regularly advises on HIPAA issues. Another key figure in the team is Kelly Starr, who provides ongoing advice to Top Line Communications on employee benefits, independent contractor, contingent workforce and executive compensation issues. Also recommended are the 'smart, responsive and collaborative' Thomas Hancuch and Jason Faust, a standout associate in the team. All named lawyers are based in Chicago.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Collins

Other key lawyers:

Kelly Starr; Thomas Hancuch; Jason Faust


Great combination of technical skills and client focus‘.

Vedder’s attorneys are knowledgeable, always available, and always pleasant to deal with‘.

Responsive, knowledgeable, business-friendly and great value‘.

Key clients

Coaching Right Now

ArcelorMittal USA LLC

Burberry Limited

Follett Corporation

Byline Bancorp

Huron Consulting Group

Ferrara Candy Company

Work highlights

  • Providing daily advice to longstanding client ArcelorMittal USA on a wide range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including 401(k) and defined benefit plans.
  • Advising Follett Corporation on an ongoing basis on executive deferred compensation plans, health and welfare plans, 401(k) plans and executive employment and separation agreements.

Venable LLP

Venable LLP's employee benefits and executive compensations practice primarily operates from the firm's offices in Washington DC, New York and Baltimore, and has recently been kept busy handling health and welfare plan mandates, including compliance with HIPAA and ERISA and healthcare reform matters. The client portfolio also includes not-for-profit, media and retail entities, which the group advises on 401(k) plan designs, tax-advantaged (403(b) and 457) plan advice, multi-employer plans and executive compensation agreements. Baltimore-based Thora Johnson jointly heads the practice with Juliana Reno in New York. Harry Atlas is also recommended in the Baltimore office.

Practice head(s):

Thora Johnson; Juliana Reno

Other key lawyers:

Harry Atlas

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

At Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, David Mustone and Jessica Agostinho (both based in Washington DC) are acting as outside counsel to the retirement and welfare benefits teams of a large international retail company for a broad range of compensation and benefits matters, including qualified and non-qualified defined contribution retirement plans, welfare benefit plans, and executive compensation matters. Energy, manufacturing and financial services entities are also included in the team’s client portfolio. Mustone shares leadership of the practice with Scott Austin in Dallas and Anthony Eppert in Austin.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Eppert; Scott Austin; David Mustone

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Agostinho


Available, plain-spoken, sensible approach‘.

Key clients

Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners

Sabine Oil & Gas

South Plains Financial

DCP Midstream Partners

Jenner & Block LLP

With an established base in Chicago, the team at Jenner & Block LLP has solid expertise in acting as outside counsel to public and private clients on a wide range of benefits and executive compensation issues. Practice head Matthew Renaud is noted for his expertise in handling ERISA fiduciary compliance matters and public and private company executive compensation mandates. Raymond Sinnappan has extensive experience of pension de-risking strategies, and regularly advises on executive compensation plans. Also recommended are health and welfare plan expert Sarah Haddy and associate Jenna Bressel, who advises on 401(k) plans and deferred compensation agreements.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Renaud

Other key lawyers:

Raymond Sinnappan; Sarah Haddy; Jenna Bressel

Key clients

General Dynamics Corporation

Olin Corporation

Budd E&A VEBA Retiree Committee

SPX Corporation


Work highlights

  • Acts as outside counsel to the General Dynamics Corporation on employee benefits matters including compliance and fiduciary duties.
  • Acts as outside counsel to the Olin Corporation on employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including compliance issues and 409A tax matters concerning executive agreements.
  • Provides ongoing support to the Budd E&A VEBA Retiree Committee on all aspects of the trust and plan’s maintenance.

K&L Gates

Key contacts at K&L Gates include San Francisco-based Rikki Sapolich-Krol and Seattle-based Karrie Johnson Diaz, who advise on a wide variety of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including ESOPs, defined benefit plans, deferred compensation arrangements, 401(k) plans, and ERISA fiduciary compliance issues. Ali Nardali, also based in the San Francisco office, is well versed in advising public companies on executive compensation matters, while Seattle-based associate Jennifer Addis assists employers and plan administrators with ERISA and tax compliance issues.

Practice head(s):

Rikki Sapolich-Krol; Karrie Johnson Diaz; Charles Smith

Other key lawyers:

Ali Nardali; Jennifer Addis

Key clients

PPG Industries

Braskem America

Celanese Americas

LendingClub Corporation

Exact Sciences Corporation

Veloxis Pharmaceuticals

Primo Water Corporation

TransDigm Group

Archdiocese of Seattle

Work highlights

  • Assists PPG Industries with the full spectrum of employee benefits and executive compensation work, including advising on retirement plans and ERISA compliance.
  • Acted for Veloxis Pharmaceuticals in its $1.3bn sale to Asahi Kasei Pharma Denmark, which involved advising the client on equity awards and golden parachute matters.
  • Advising TransDigm and its affiliates on all employee benefits matters, most recently on a 401(k) plan merger.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

At Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., practice head Alden Bianchi and special counsel Patricia Moran advise longstanding client Marsh & McLennan Agency on compliance issues relating to health and welfare plans and the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. The team is also noted for its expertise in handling association health plans and issues regarding the Affordable Care Act, as well as advising on executive compensation matters and 401(k) plans. Bianchi and Moran are both based in Boston.

Practice head(s):

Alden Bianchi

Other key lawyers:

Patricia Moran

Key clients

Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

Trion Group

American Staffing Association

Marsh McLennan Agency



Ace Hardware

Work highlights

  • Advised Ace Hardware on, and obtained a DOL advisory opinion related to, the establishment and operation of a multi-state association health plan.
  • Provides ongoing advice to Citigroup on Affordable Care Act compliance, including plan design, maintenance, and operation for 57 subsidiaries.

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP

Acting from a solid base in Chicago, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice is made up of lawyers 'whose skills are uniquely complimentary, which in turn allows the group to truly cover the whole spectrum in terms of the body of law applicable to employee benefits and executive compensation'. Jointly led by Patricia Cain and Jeffrey Bakker, the team has recently been especially active in acting for clients in the financial services sector. Specifically, Cain advises employers on the administration and design of 401(k) retirement plans, ERISA compliance and executive compensation plans, while Bakker is highlighted as being 'extremely good with clients' and having 'a quite unusual ability to break down and explain in the most simple terms even the most complex benefits law concepts'. Linda Hoseman is singled out for her expertise in health and welfare plan governance.

Practice head(s):

Patricia Cain; Jeffrey Bakker

Other key lawyers:

Linda Hoseman


The team is led by strong subject matter experts. The solutions they suggest show a deeper grasp of the relevant law than we otherwise experience within the industry, and it reveals a willingness to find answers where others may not know where to look‘.

Key clients

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital

Reed Smith LLP

Reed Smith LLP fields a 'very knowledgeable and responsive' team, which acts as benefits counsel to tax-exempt foundations and organizations, with healthcare and financial services entities counted among its key clients. The group has solid expertise in advising on deferred compensation and executive compensation plans, health and welfare programs, and the design and implementation of qualified retirement plans. In Pittsburgh, Allison Sizemore leads the practice group and Jennifer Gardner was promoted to partner in January 2021. Jenni Krengel in San Francisco is noted for her expertise in tax and ERISA fiduciary compliance matters, and Andrew Douglass is a name to note in the Chicago office.

Practice head(s):

Allison Sizemore

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Douglass; Jenni Krengel; Jennifer Gardner


Jen Gardner and Allison Sizemore are great partners. They’re responsive and work to understand the issue(s) we present and explain the law and our complicated plan documents in easier to understand terms‘.

Holland & Knight LLP

Neely Munnerlyn leads Thompson & Knight LLP's Dallas-based practice group, which advises a solid client base of oil and gas, energy and manufacturing companies across the range of employee benefits and executive compensation issues. The team also has expertise in tax-related questions, which has been an active area for the group of late. Key names to note are senior counsel Russell Gully and Jason Patrick LodenJessica Morrison left the firm in October 2020.

Practice head(s):

Neely Munnerlyn

Other key lawyers:

Russell Gully; Jason Patrick Loden

Key clients

CNOOC Petroleum USA

Mary Kay Inc.

Interstate Batteries

Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

USA Compression Partners

Noble Corporation

Work highlights

  • Provides ongoing advice to USA Compression Partners LLC on the tax aspects of employee benefit plans.
  • Acts as longstanding US counsel to CNOOC Petroleum USA for executive compensation, tax, and employee benefits matters relating to US employees.
  • Assisting beauty products and marketing company Mary Kay with the tax aspects of employee benefits and compensation plans.