Firms To Watch: Employee benefits, executive compensation and retirement plans: design

Fisher & Phillips counts qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, health and welfare benefit plans, as well as equity-based compensation arrangements, in its workload. Key contacts in the team include practice leader Sheldon Blumling, who is located in the firm’s Irvine office.
The executive compensation and employee benefits team at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP bolstered its offering with the arrivals of Washington DC-based Alexander Ryan from Groom Law Group, Chartered, who advises on ERISA Title 1 matters, and counsel Sarah Haddy from Jenner & Block LLP, who operates from the firm’s Chicago office and designs qualified and non-qualified retirement plans.
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Employee benefits, executive compensation and retirement plans: design in United States

Groom Law Group, Chartered

Washington DC-based boutique firm Groom Law Group, Chartered is noted for its experience and capability across the full spectrum of employee benefits, executive compensation, health and retirement-related matters, assisting a range of plan sponsors, as well as financial institutions. Standout partner David Levine focuses on the redesign of retirement and executive plans, while Jon Breyfogle is recognized for his expertise in health and welfare mandates. Elsewhere, Jennifer Eller advises corporate and public plan sponsors on all aspects of ERISA fiduciary compliance, and Brigen Winters specializes in legislative policy issues, while Michael Kreps advises both private and public sector clients on retirement and health matters. Mark Lofgren handles tax-qualified retirement plan arrangements, while Christine Keller, advises employers, insurers, and service providers on health and welfare plan design and administration mandates. Tax specialist Louis Mazawey, Allison Ullman and Lisa Campbell are also key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

David Levine; Allison Ullman; Jon Breyfogle; Lisa Campbell; Brigen Winters; Michael Kreps; Jennifer Eller

Other key lawyers:

Mark Lofgren; Christine Keller; Louis Mazawey

Key clients

Central States Pension Fund

Seattle Times

March of Dimes

Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets

American Benefits Council

National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators, Inc.

Defined Contribution Alternatives Association

National Association of Professional Employer Organizations

Aetna Life Insurance Company

Principal Financial Group

Stout Risius Ross

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Noted for its capability across the full range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP houses ‘a diverse group of experts’ who collaboratively work ‘from every angle to solve a client’s problem’. In the firm’s New York office, Craig Bitman, who offers great experience advising on all aspects of benefit plans, jointly leads the team alongside Philadelphia-based deputy practice leader Amy Pocino Kelly. In Washington DC, Rosina Barker focuses on executive compensation matters, including Section 409A compliance issues, while Althea Day handles multi-employer plan mandates, and Boston-based Lisa Barton advises on health and welfare and 401(k) plans. Mary Hevener, who operates from the firm’s New York office, has experience in fringe benefits and tax-related matters, and Pittsburgh-based John Ferreira is a ‘trusted counsel’ in ERISA compliance issues. Elizabeth Goldberg also works from the firm's Pittsburgh office, and Michelle McCarthy and Daniel Salemi, based in Los Angeles and Chicago respectively, are key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Craig Bitman; Amy Pocino Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Rosina Barker; Althea Day; Lisa Barton; Mary Hevener; John Ferreira; Michelle McCarthy; Daniel Salemi; Sage Fattahian; Elizabeth Goldberg

Testimonials

‘The team is always available and very responsive when our team reaches out. Their knowledge on ERISA law is second to none.’

‘Craig Bitman is our lead attorney and main counsel. He provides excellent advice and his longevity with our funds has also helped. We recently worked with Michelle McCarthy on various DOL welfare fund issues and she was able to get everything accomplished for us.’

‘The MLB team works from every angle to solve a client’s problem. They have a diverse group of experts who join in to work seamlessly to find solutions.’

‘John Ferriera is a terrific leader and trusted counsel. He is very easy to work with and brings no ego to the effort. He invites others at the firm to join the effort which enriches the debate and helps us all find the best path.’

Key clients

The Kroger Company

Talen Energy

Honeywell International Inc.

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Amtrak

Maersk, Inc.

Dairy Farmers of America

General Mills

CSX Corporation

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Work highlights

  • Advised Kroger in its $1bn withdrawal from the United Food and Commercial Workers National Pension Fund and the corresponding establishment of a new variable annuity pension plan.
  • Assisted an energy company in various projects relating to its tax-qualified retirement plans and Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) matters.
  • Representing Amtrak and Toyota in all facets of each respective company’s benefit programs, including retirement, health, and executive compensation.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Praised for its ‘keen ability to quickly clarify and explain complexities in a very effective and efficient manner’, Proskauer Rose LLP has demonstrable experience in handling a broad range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters. Practice co-leader Paul Hamburger has considerable expertise in advising on all aspects of employee benefit programs, from tax-qualified retirement and executive compensation plans to welfare benefit plans. The ‘meticulousRobert Projansky co-leads the practice alongside Hamburger from the firm’s office in New York, and notably acts for companies in the entertainment sector on the full range of employee benefits issues. Seth Safra is a key contact in the group and advises on qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, as well as 403(b) and 457 arrangements. New York-based Anthony Cacace acts as ERISA trust fund counsel to the boards of trustees for multi-employer pension and welfare benefit plans, while Justin Alex was promoted to partner in October 2021. Unless stated otherwise, all named attorneys are based in Washington DC.

Other key lawyers:

Seth Safra; Anthony Cacace; Justin Alex

Testimonials

‘Robert Projansky is very smart, articulate and human in his professional advice to the client. He is meticulous in his preparation for meetings and in responding to concerns raised by clients. He uses humour to relieve tensions, is clear thinking in trying to resolve problems and personality differences.’

‘Proskauer has extensive knowledge and expertise in employee benefits, executive compensation and retirement plans. They can be relied on as a firm that will provide practical, concise and immediately helpful legal support and guidance on matters that arise. The team of attorneys that we work with have a keen ability to quickly clarify and explain complexities in a very effective and efficient manner. They are relied on as subject matter experts who can provide reliable guidance and support at all times.’

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Commended for its ‘great knowledge’ in a broad range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, Seyfarth Shaw LLP acts for clients across the manufacturing, retail, healthcare, insurance and financial services sectors. In the firm’s Chicago office, practice leader Diane Dygert has extensive experience advising on health and welfare plans, while Jonathan Karelitz ‘gives fantastic and practical advice’ to clients on pension de-risking matters. Also in Chicago, Jennifer Kraft focuses on qualified retirement and welfare plans, and Seattle-based Liz Deckman handles all aspects of tax-qualified retirement plans and trusts, including section 401(k), profit sharing and defined benefit plans. In New York, Richard Schwartz advises healthcare-sector clients on deferred and executive compensation arrangements, corrections under the IRS and DOL programs, as well as fiduciary issues, while Howard Pianko focuses on ERISA plan governance matters.

Practice head(s):

Diane Dygert

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Karelitz; Jennifer Kraft; Liz Deckman; Richard Schwartz; Howard Pianko

Testimonials

‘Great knowledge, creative and practical in advising, and responsive in a very timely manner.’

‘Jon Karelitz is the best. He is very responsive and helpful, gives fantastic practical advice and doesn’t try to do more than is necessary.’

‘Exceptional client focus and availability, very adept at delivering complex legal analysis in plain English. The entire team is a pleasure to work with.’

‘Jon Karelitz and Diane Dygert are go-to legal resources in the defined benefit and defined contribution retirement income spaces, respectively. Very impressed with their attention to detail and ability to communicate to various functions within our company.’

Winston & Strawn LLP

Counting public and private companies, healthcare systems and C-suite executives among its key roster of clients, Winston & Strawn LLP has demonstrable experience in handling the full range of employee benefits issues, as highlighted by its advice to Carnival Corporation on equity compensation, retirement, fringe benefits and healthcare plans. Joe Adams now leads the practice, and focuses on 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, as well as ESOPs. Both Amy Gordon and Susan Nash have considerable experience in health and welfare benefit plans, and frequently assist employers and health plans on Affordable Care Act and HIPAA compliance matters. David Rogers, who is the managing partner of the firm’s Washington DC office, is another key member of the team. All named attorneys are based in Chicago unless otherwise stated. Nancy Gerrie has retired.

Practice head(s):

Joe Adams

Other key lawyers:

Amy Gordon; Susan Nash; David Rogers; Anne Becker

Key clients

Darden Restaurants

Nuveen/TIAA

Federal Signal Corporation

IKEA Purchasing

Molson Coors Brewing Company

Northern Trust

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

ADP

Work highlights

  • Advising Blue Cross Blue Shield Association on an ongoing basis, on its pension and 401(k) plans.
  • Advising Carnival Corporation and its subsidiary, Holland America Group, on employee benefit matters, including equity compensation plans, retirement, fringe benefits and healthcare.

ArentFox Schiff

Noted for its expertise in fixing employee benefits plans, the Washington DC-based team at Arent Fox LLP is led by Quana Jew, who has extensive experience advising clients on the regulatory and design aspects of profit-sharing plans, money purchase pension plans and deferred compensation arrangements, as well as employee health and welfare benefit programs. Jew is supported by counsel William Charyk, who focuses on employee benefit and executive compensation tax planning. The practice group counts non-profitable organizations, in addition to media, food and beverage, hospitality and manufacturing companies among its key roster of clients.

Practice head(s):

Quana Jew

Other key lawyers:

William Charyk

Testimonials

Quana Jew is an outstanding legal advisor and highly recommended. She is able to clearly communicate complex issues and is very thorough with the work she does. She is also proactive when communicating about legal developments that may be of interest to our organization.’

Key clients

Monsanto Company/Bayer Corporation

RTI International

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Vox Media

AARP

Lavazza Professional

Carl Zeiss, Inc.

Choice Hotels International

Monumental Sports & Entertainment

Panda Restaurant Group

American Bankers Association

Catholic Charities USA

Work highlights

  • Advising AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, as sole benefits counsel.
  • Advising Vox Media on all of its employee benefits plans, including retirement, health and welfare, and fringe benefit plans.
  • Advising Monumental Sports & Entertainment on its retirement and welfare benefit plans.

Baker McKenzie LLP

Baker McKenzie LLP stands out for its capabilities in handling a broad range of cross-border employee benefits and executive compensation matters, and frequently advises multinational employers on benefits and pension plan risk-mitigation mandates, as well as de-risking alternatives. In the firm’s San Francisco office, practice leader Barbara Klementz and Sinead Kelly advise public and private companies on equity and incentive compensation plans. The ‘collaborative team’, which has demonstrable experience across the technology, financial services and pharmaceutical sectors, also includes Aimee Soodan and Denise Glagau, who are based in Chicago and San Francisco respectively.

Practice head(s):

Barbara Klementz

Other key lawyers:

Sinead Kelly; Aimee Soodan; Denise Glagau

Testimonials

‘Creative problem solvers on non-US matters. A collaborative team.’

‘Barbara Klementz is smart, practical and easy to work with.’

Key clients

Boston Scientific

Work highlights

  • Advising Boston Scientific on an ongoing basis on the tax, legal and regulatory considerations and compliance requirements associated with its offer of long-term incentive awards (stock options and restricted stock units) and an ESPP to employees in over 40 countries.

Ballard Spahr LLP

Praised for its ‘depth of knowledge in the benefits space’, Ballard Spahr LLP’s workload includes health and welfare benefit plans and defined benefit pension plans, as well as executive compensation matters and ESOPs. Also noted for its capability in handling tax-exemption issues, the team counts health care systems, colleges, universities and non-profitable organizations among its roster of clients. Brian Pinheiro leads the practice from the firm’s office in Philadelphia and handles compliance matters relating to section 409A and 280G golden parachute rules, tax-qualified retirement mandates and 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans. Also based in Philadelphia, counsel Edward Leeds focuses on health and welfare benefit plans work.

Practice head(s):

Brian Pinheiro

Other key lawyers:

Edward Leeds

Testimonials

‘The firm has a depth of knowledge in the benefits space to address our needs as they change and evolve. They offer practical guidance such that is understandable and actionable for clients.’

‘I have worked with Edward Leeds for many years. I value his advice, as I know he will provide a thorough and practical assessment on all issues that we bring to him. Edward is an expert in his field.’

‘Depth of experience, both within the law firm context but also on the regulatory side which helps inform guidance and keeps it practical. They are very responsive, are able to understand our culture and work within that environment.’

Key clients

The Chemours Company

NRG Energy Inc.

Temple University/Temple University Health System

Republic Services, Inc.

American Red Cross

Inspira

Wawa, Inc.

CSL Behring LLC

Ricoh USA, Inc.

Union Pacific Corporation

McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Noted for its expertise in the financial services and healthcare sectors, McDermott Will & Emery LLP advises public companies, individual executives and management teams on various executive compensation issues, as well as qualified retirement plans. In the firm’s Boston office, global chair Andrew Liazos frequently handles employment and severance agreement matters for senior executives, while Chicago-based Todd Solomon advises public and private companies, and tax-exempt entities, on deferred compensations plans. Also in Chicago, Judith Wethall focuses on health and welfare programs, and Lisa Loesel advises on 401(k) and pension plans, while Erin Turley and Allison Wilkerson are also key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Liazos

Other key lawyers:

Todd Solomon; Judith Wethall; Lisa Loesel; Erin Turley; Allison Wilkerson

Testimonials

‘Andrew Liazos is the most extraordinary attorney I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Regardless of the hour or the urgency, Andrew gets the problem solved fast and effectively.’

‘The team includes nationally recognized experts. They are extremely responsive, practical and resourceful. They have such a high volume of work that it seems like they’ve either handled or seen everything.’

‘Erin Turley is phenomenal. She gets your job done on time, is responsive and very well connected.’

Key clients

Crate & Barrel

Darden Restaurants

Discover Financial Services

Ericsson

Huron Consulting

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China

Kaiser Aluminum

Lenovo Group

Liberty Mutual

Novant Health

Work highlights

  • Advised Huron Consulting Group on the redesign of its executive compensation incentive plan.
  • Advised an industrial corporation in the merger of six pensions into one.
  • Advised Liberty Mutual in relation to the overfunding of its pension fund.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

The employee benefits and executive compensation team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP counts financial institutions, broker-dealers, insurance companies, trade associations, as well as healthcare entities, among its key list of clients. The team’s workload includes DOL investigations, prohibited transactions and ERISA fiduciary compliance issues. Melanie Nussdorf and Paul Ondrasik, who jointly lead the practice, and Eric Serron, are praised as ‘standout partners who all bring something different to the table’ and ‘knowledgeable about the financial services industry and in ERISA matters’. All named attorneys are based in the firm’s Washington DC office.

Practice head(s):

Paul Ondrasik; Melanie Nussdorf

Other key lawyers:

Eric Serron

Testimonials

‘The partners at Steptoe are simply exceptional lawyers. They have a tremendous understanding of the industry that allows them to provide practical and actionable advice. In addition, they are always available and extremely responsive.’

‘We work with Melanie Nussdorf, Paul Ondrasik and Eric Serron. All three are standout partners who all bring something different to the table. They are extremely knowledgeable about the financial services industry and in ERISA matters. Moreover, they have a great working relationship with the Department of Labor and the IRS. Finally, all three of these partners can be put in front of a business person, and can speak their language, which is a critical skill.

Key clients

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

Work highlights

  • Advising numerous global banks, broker-dealers and asset managers in developing global fee disclosures required under new ERISA regulations.
  • Advising Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 of Virginia Pension and Health & Welfare Funds on Taft-Hartley multi-employer employee benefit plans.
  • Representing healthcare companies, including health plan service providers, in responding to Department of Labor investigations.

BakerHostetler

Baker & Hostetler LLP notably advises on multi-employer plans, public company executive compensation arrangements and health and welfare plans. From the firm’s Columbus office, Susan Lubow, who focuses on ERISA compliance issues, jointly leads the practice alongside Cleveland-based Raymond Malone, who frequently acts for tax-exempt organizations such as research universities and hospital systems. Also in Cleveland, Jennifer Mills and Susan Whittaker Hughes focus on health and welfare plan matters, while Columbus-based counsel Seth Hanft advises on HIPAA compliance issues. Ann Caresani, who operates from the Cleveland office, is another key member of the team. Columbus-based Georgeann Peters recently retired.

Practice head(s):

Raymond Malone; Susan Lubow

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Mills; Susan Hughes; Seth Hanft; Ann Caresani

Key clients

Parker Hannifin Corporation

Huntington National Bank

The E.W. Scripps Company

Trinity Health Corporation

Teleflex Incorporated

Kaiser Permanente/Kaiser Foundation Health Plan

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation

TRW Automotive U.S. LLC

American Automobile Association

The Health Transformation Alliance

Dentons

Dentons acts for clients across the technology, insurance and healthcare sectors on matters pertaining to qualified retirement plans, equity incentive plans and health and welfare programs. In the firm’s Kansas City office, Martin Moderson advises ERISA-governed plan investment and administrative committees on fiduciary matters, while Washington DC-based Michael Maryn focuses on 401(k) plans, ESOPs and defined benefit plans, and advises on severance and retention agreements. Key clients include software companies Double Verify, Inc. and GetSwift, among others.

Practice head(s):

Martin Moderson

Other key lawyers:

Michael Maryn

Key clients

Double Verify, Inc.

GetSwift

Small Environmental Waste Company

Private University

Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

Noted for its expertise in the healthcare and life sciences sectors, Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. acts for public and private companies, as well as non-profit organizations, on a range of employee benefits and executive compensations mandates. In the firm’s Detroit office, Christopher McMican advises on ERISA compliance issues and New York-based Sharon Lippett handles tax-qualified defined benefit and non-qualified deferred compensation plans. Also in New York, ‘well-rounded‘ partner Gretchen Harders focuses on all aspects of executive compensation and employee benefits issues, while senior counsel Avi Bernstein joined the team from an in-house position in May 2021. Michelle Capezza left the firm in July 2021.

Other key lawyers:

Christopher McMican; Sharon Lippett; Gretchen Harders; Avi Bernstein

Testimonials

‘Very solid employee benefits group that handles complex issues for sophisticated clients.’

‘Gretchen Harders is thoughtful and experienced. Especially knowledgeable about welfare plans, but is a great well-rounded employee benefits attorney.’

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland advises clients across the financial services, insurance, manufacturing and food services sectors on equity and deferred compensation mandates, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, as well as health and welfare plans. In the firm’s Washington DC office, Adam Cohen leads the practice and focuses on tax-qualified retirement plans and executive compensation arrangements, while Carol McClarnon handles ERISA and tax-related issues. Based in Atlanta, Brenna Clark advises on qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, while Vanessa Scott left the firm in October 2021.

Practice head(s):

Adam Cohen

Other key lawyers:

Carol McClarnon; Brenna Clark

Key clients

Empower Retirement

Cox Communications

HR Policy Association

US Chamber of Commerce

HRPA

Goodwin

Goodwin has demonstrable capability in handling a range of executive compensation mandates, and also advises its roster of clients on employee benefits issues. In the firm’s Washington DC and Boston office, respectively, practice co-leader Patrick Menasco, who focuses on ERISA Title 1 matters, and Rachel Faye Smith, who handles qualified plans, are praised for providing ‘correct and timely answers to the most complicated matters’. In Silicon Valley, Lynda Galligan acts for public and private companies in the technology and life sciences sectors on equity-based arrangements, and Boston-based practice co-leader James Mattus is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Menasco; James Mattus

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Faye Smith; Lynda Galligan

Testimonials

‘Goodwin’s practice stands out among its peers due to the depth and breadth of their partners’ and associates’ knowledge, fast turn around time, and the ability to make sometimes arcane legal matters understandable to my non-legal colleagues.’

‘Patrick Menasco and Rachel Faye Smith always have correct and timely answers to the most complicated matters.’

Key clients

Cerevel Therapeutics

Charlesbank Capital Partners

Freshly

GeneWerk Holding

LaunchPoint Ventures, LLC

ModernaTX, Inc.

MyoKardia, Inc.

Slack Technologies

TA Associates

Thrive Earlier Detection

Greenberg Traurig LLP

The employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Greenberg Traurig LLP counts multinational corporations, including Google, Amazon and Snap Inc., among its key list of clients and handles a range of matters, from 401(k) and non-qualified deferred compensation plans to ERISA fiduciary and HIPAA compliance issues. In Silicon Valley, key contact Magan Ray advises on all aspects of employee benefits, while associate Stephanie Ahmad focuses on health and welfare plans and Chicago-based Richard Sirus handles executive compensation programs. In Chicago and New York, respectively, Leslie Klein and Jeffrey Mamorsky jointly lead the team.

Practice head(s):

Les Klein; Jeffrey Mamorsky

Other key lawyers:

Magan Ray; Richard Sirus; Stephanie Ahmad

Key clients

Amazon

Google, Inc.

Snap, Inc.

Intuit

Twitter

VMware

Ross Stores, Inc.

Qualcomm

Xilinx, Inc.

Granite Construction

Amalgamated Bank of Chicago

Educational Loan Finance, Inc.

Northwell Health, Inc.

TriHealth, Inc.

IBEW Local No. 117 Fringe Benefit Funds

Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago

Mahoney Environmental, Inc.

United Health Centers, Inc.

NFP Corp.

Windows to the World, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Acting as outside counsel to Amazon with respect to employee benefits matters.

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Labor and employment specialist law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. acts for clients across the retail, healthcare, technology, energy and hospitality sectors on a range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters. In the firm’s Baltimore office, Joy Napier-Joyce heads the team and advises on compliance issues relating to qualified retirement plans under ERISA and the IRS, while Kellie M. Thomas focuses on deferred compensation matters, including Section 409A issues, as well as defined benefit plans and HIPPA compliance mandates. South Carolina-based Suzanne G. Odom is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Joy Napier-Joyce

Other key lawyers:

Kellie M. Thomas; Suzanne G. Odom

K&L Gates

K&L Gates is well-versed in an array of compensation and benefits matters, such as qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, deferred compensation arrangements, including Section 409A compliance issues, defined benefit plans, health and welfare benefit plans, and ESOPs. In the firm’s San Francisco office, Rikki Sapolich-Krol advises public, private and non-profit entities on structuring and administering benefit plans and compensation arrangements, while one client praises Seattle-based Karrie Johnson Diaz for ‘her deep knowledge on the most complicated retirement plan issues’. Also in Seattle, associate Jennifer Addis handles ERISA and tax compliance matters.

Practice head(s):

Rikki Sapolich-Krol; Karrie Johnson Diaz

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Addis

Testimonials

‘Karrie Diaz is knowledgeable on the subject of retirement plans (the reason we use K&L Gates). I appreciate working with Karrie because of her deep knowledge about the most complicated retirement plan issues, her understanding of our plans, and her approachability.’

Key clients

PPG Industries, Inc.

Braskem America, Inc.

Celanese Americas LLC

Nu Holdings

Spartacus Acquisition Corporation

SHoP Architects, Inc.

Inivata Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

TransDigm Group, Inc.

Archdiocese of Seattle

Work highlights

  • Representing PPG Industries, Inc. on its employee benefits and executive compensation issues.
  • Advising TransDigm and its affiliates on all employee benefits matters, including issues relating to qualified retirement plans (defined benefit and defined contributions) and health and welfare plans.

Mayer Brown

Counting investment managers, banks and other financial institutions among its roster of clients, Mayer Brown is noted for its capability in handling pension plan investment matters, as well as 401(k) and defined benefit plans. Based in Palo Alto, Maureen Gorman leads the practice and handles ERISA fiduciary issues, in addition to IRS and DOL audits. In the firm’s Washington DC office, Erin Cho joined the group from Groom Law Group, Chartered in March 2021, and focuses on ERISA Title I fiduciary matters, while senior counsel Lennine Occhino, who is based in the Chicago office, is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Maureen Gorman

Other key lawyers:

Erin Cho; Lennine Occhino

Testimonials

‘This team gives commercial and practical advice. Those I have worked with are very responsive and thoughtful of the commercial needs of the business.’

‘Erin Cho is a fantastic partner. It goes without saying that she has great expertise in all aspects of ERISA, but she has become a trusted advisor for our asset management business due to the very practical advice she gives in a timely fashion.’

Key clients

Assured Guaranty

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Dow Chemical

Envestnet

The Hartford Financial Group

Northern Trust Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advising Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on all qualified and welfare plans in the US.
  • Advising a pharmaceutical manufacturer on the termination of a $4bn pension plan.
  • Advising a broker dealer and asset manager on compliance issues related to the Department of Labor’s new regulations on investment advice.

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP is well-versed in an array of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, and counts banks, insurance companies, multinational automotive corporations, healthcare entities and educational institutions among its key roster of clients. In the firm’s Washington DC office, William Tysse co-chairs the practice alongside Charlotte-based Taylor French, whose experience extends to equity compensation plans, non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements, and all aspects of tax-qualified retirement plans, as well as compliance issues relating to health and welfare benefit plans. Also in Charlotte, associate Allison Tanner advises on ERISA compliance matters.

Practice head(s):

Taylor French; William Tysse

Other key lawyers:

Allison Tanner

Key clients

Equitrans Midstream

Dominion Energy Services, Inc.

Foundation For the Carolinas

University of Virginia Physicians Group

Alex Lee, Inc.

EXL Service Holdings, Inc.

Navient Solutions, LLC

L3 Harris Technologies, Inc.

American Woodmark Corporation

Mantech International Corporation

Continental Automotive Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Equitrans Midstream on the operations and correction of matters associated with the company’s sponsorship of a Voluntary Employees Benefit Association (VEBA).

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Counting financial services, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies among its key roster of clients, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP advises on 401(k) plans, defined benefit plans, deferred compensation matters, including Section 409A compliance issues, as well as ERISA fiduciary mandates. In San Fransisco, ‘exquisitely competentJonathan Ocker advises public companies on a range of executive compensation matters, while Christine Richardson is praised as ‘a wonderful professional in the retirement and health and welfare spaces’. Cindy Schlaefer leads the team from the Silicon Valley office and New York-based Peter Hunt advises on ERISA fiduciary compliance issues.

Practice head(s):

Cindy Schlaefer

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Ocker; Christine Richardson; Peter Hunt; Mark Jones

Testimonials

‘Pillsbury’s plan design team is excellent overall. They listen very closely to the specific needs of the client and then design plans to meet those needs. At the same time, they not only respond to the client’s interests, but proactively propose ideas that serve the client’s interests that they have not yet identified. They are also wonderful people with whom it is a pleasure to work.’

‘Jonathan Ocker is exquisitely competent, and, at the same time, extremely effective with helping lay clients understand the law and counselling them through decision making.’

‘The Pillsbury lawyers with whom I’ve worked with pride themselves in being experts in their fields, and their expertise shows. They not only respond to what they are asked for by the client, but guide us in what would be most beneficial for us under the circumstances. Christine Richardson is a wonderful professional in the retirement and health and welfare spaces and Mark Jones is the same in the executive compensation space.’

Key clients

1stdibs.com, Inc.

AT&T and Warner Media

Beauty By Imagination

Chevron Corporation

Cisco Systems, Inc.

Clearwater Paper Corporation

Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

Foursquare Labs, Inc

General Reinsurance Corporation

Invitae Corporation

IQVIA

The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. on employee benefit matters, including defined benefit pension plan and 401(k) plan compliance matters, obtaining IRS approvals and advising on participant benefit claims.

Thompson Hine LLP

Thompson Hine LLP advises on a range of benefits matters, including 401(k) plans, defined benefit plans, deferred compensation arrangements, including Section 409A compliance issues, as well as health and welfare plans. In Cleveland, Julia Ann Love leads the practice and focuses on group health plan rules under the Affordable Care Act, while Washington DC-based Dominic DeMatties advises on ERISA compliance issues relating to tax-qualified and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements. Other key members of the team include David Whaley, Timothy Brown, Kim Wilcoxon and Laura Ryan, who are all based in the firm’s Cincinnati office.

Practice head(s):

Julia Ann Love

Testimonials

‘The team are very good at putting things into layman’s terms. They do a good job giving you the legal background for the situation, but summarize the legislation/action steps needed in a way that is easy to digest and is actionable.’

Key clients

Nouryon Chemicals LLC

Cardinal Health

McDonald’s Corporation

NCR Corporation

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated

KeyBank

Akzo Nobel Inc.

Eaton Corporation

US Foods

Kelly Services

UPS

Delta Air Lines

Chick-fil-A

Nordstrom

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

North Dakota Farmers Union

Pyramid Healthcare

Work highlights

  • Advising McDonald’s Corporation on all aspects of its health and welfare plans, 401(k) plan and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements and other deferred compensation arrangements subject to Code Section 409A.
  • Advising on all aspects of Chick-fil-A’s qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and health and welfare plans.

Vedder Price

Based in Chicago, the ‘top notch’ team at Vedder Price handles an array of benefits matters pertaining to 401(k) plans, defined benefit pension plans, as well as equity-based and deferred compensation plans. Christopher Collins leads the practice and focuses on retirement and welfare plan design matters, while Thomas Hancuch handles ERISA fiduciary compliance issues and Kelly Starr is ‘a star’ when it comes to advising on all aspects of employee benefits plans and executive compensation mandates. Associate Jason Faust is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Collins

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Hancuch; Kelly Starr; Jason Faust

Testimonials

‘The lawyers are top notch. Very knowledgeable, but also very practical. Always available and very responsive.’

‘Tom Hancuch and his team are responsive and intelligent. They know our business and we trust them to do the important things well.’

‘Knowledgeable, practical, and very good with clients.’

‘Kelly Starr is a star. Great attorney, hard working and the staff loves working with her. She’s our go to person. So is Tom Hancuch.’

‘Tom Hancuch is calm, bright and always available. He is one of our most trusted advisors.’

Key clients

Coaching Right Now

ArcelorMittal Sales and Administration LLC

Burberry Limited

Follett Corporation

Byline Bancorp, Inc.

Sun-Times Media

Huron Consulting Group, Inc.

Ferrara Candy Company

Oil-Dri Corporation of America

Cleveland-Cliffs Steel LLC

Work highlights

  • Advising Cleveland-Cliffs Steel LLC on day-to-day employee benefits and executive compensation matters.
  • Advising Follett Corporation on employee benefit and executive compensation, issues, from 401(k) plans, medical plans and other welfare plans to incentive plans, executive deferred compensation plans and executive employment and separation agreements.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP advises clients across the retail, financial services, manufacturing and energy sectors on a range of compensations and benefits matters, ranging from qualified and non-qualified defined contribution retirement plans and welfare benefit plans to equity and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements. In Austin, Anthony Eppert focuses on ESOPs, while Scott Austin, who operates from the firm’s Dallas office, handles deferred compensation issues. Eppert and Austin lead the practice alongside Washington DC-based David Mustone, who advises on the ERISA aspects of employee benefits matters.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Eppert; Scott Austin; David Mustone

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Agostinho; Kelly Ultis; Michelle Lewis

Testimonials

‘The team has broad-based experience and seems familiar with a wide range of issues. I like that they offer regular webinars on employee benefits topics.’

‘Scott Austin and Michelle Lewis are both very responsive to my requests. Scott is also proactive in reaching out to let me know about new developments and to ensure I am aware of approaching deadlines. He does a good job of enlisting the right person to work on our matters and seems to be a good supervisor and project manager.’

Key clients

Dana Incorporated

Darden Restaurants, Inc.

Ennis Inc.

DTE Energy Company

Hilcorp Energy Company

IES Holdings, Inc.

MV Transportation

NuStar Energy L. P.

Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC

Performance Food Group Company

Smithfield Foods, Inc.

SPB Hospitality LLC

Sunlight Financial, LLC

Ivins, Phillips & Barker

The Washington DC-based employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Ivins, Phillips & Barker notably advises employers on defined benefit plans, as well as 401(k) plans, health and welfare programs and fringe benefit matters. Kevin O’Brien leads the practice and has huge experience in handling ERISA fiduciary issues, while Ben Grosz advises both employers and fiduciaries on tax-qualified plans. Jodi Epstein focuses on defined benefit and 401(k) plans, and Spencer Walters is another key member of the team. Robin Solomon departed from the firm in April 2021.

Practice head(s):

Kevin O’Brien

Other key lawyers:

Ben Grosz; Jodi Epstein; Spencer Walters

Key clients

IBM

GE

Con Edison

AMC Networks

Dole Food Company

Los Angeles Philharmonic

General Mills

Middle River Aerostructure Systems

Nissan North America

United States Golf Association

Work highlights

  • Acting as primary outside counsel for a Fortune 100 company’s 401(k) plan.
  • Advising the tax department of a Fortune 100 company on all aspects of fringe benefit matters.
  • Acting as benefits counsel to a Fortune Global 500 company and its fiduciary committee on issues relating to pension plans, a 401(k) plan, multiple non-qualified plans, executive compensation matters (including 409A), and various health and welfare programs.

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

The employee benefits and executive compensation team at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. is led by Boston-based Alden Bianchi, who is noted for his expertise in compliance matters relating to the Affordable Care Act. Also in the firm’s Boston office, special counsel Patricia Moran acts for clients across the hospitality, finance services and education sectors on welfare benefits plans and New York-based of counsel Michelle Capezza advises on deferred compensation arrangements, including Section 409A compliance issues. Capezza joined the team from Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. in July 2021.

Practice head(s):

Alden Bianchi

Other key lawyers:

Patricia Moran; Michelle Capezza

Key clients

American Staffing Association

Trion Group

Suffolk University

Work highlights

  • Advising a major financial services company up on Affordable Care Act compliance, including plan design, maintenance, and operation for 57 subsidiaries.
  • Advising The American Staffing Association on Affordable Care Act compliance.

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP’s ‘extremely collaborative’ employee benefits and executive compensation team counts financial, retail, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, as well as individual executives, among its key roster of clients. The Chicago-based practice is led by Patricia Cain, who advises on de-risking strategies for pension plans and executive compensation programs. Jeffrey Bakker focuses on ERISA and tax compliance issues relating to qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, while Linda Hoseman has experience in advising clients on health and welfare plans.

Practice head(s):

Patricia Cain

Other key lawyers:

Jeffrey Bakker; Linda Hoseman

Testimonials

‘The practice covers a wide array of employee benefits matters. We are comfortable that the leadership can handle all employee benefit needs that have arisen for our clients. They are extremely collaborative with our team and with one another.’

‘Jeff Bakker guided me through my particular situation with both care and professionalism. He was an extremely good listener, asked relevant questions, and made a sincere effort to understand the nuances of the topics involved. I felt like he truly represented my best interests.’

‘The individuals are extremely resourceful and consultative. They have an exceptional grasp on their subject matter, and are innovative in developing unique solutions to unforeseen issues or problems. They seem to always be available when needed.’

‘The employment benefits and executive compensation practice at NGE was very professional and attentive to my needs. When collaboration was necessary, the appropriate team members were available to provide assistance and expertise. The entire process was very smooth. I would highly recommend them to colleagues.’

Key clients

Kemper Corporation

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Reed Smith LLP

Praised for its ‘superior service’, Reed Smith LLP advises its roster of clients on a range of benefits matters, including qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, health and welfare programs and 401(k) plans. Jennifer Gardner regularly advises on executive compensation arrangements, while Allison Sizemore leads the team and focuses on compliance issues relating to qualified retirement plans. Associate Shannon Mincemoyer is another key member of the team and handles ERISA fiduciary matters. All named attorneys are based in the firm’s Pittsburgh office.

Practice head(s):

Allison Sizemore

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Gardner; Shannon Mincemoyer

Testimonials

‘We have utilized Reed Smith for employee benefit, retirement, ACA, deferred compensation and other matters over the span of 20 or more years. You can expect superior service, legal insight and a comfort level that you are receiving the best possible legal advice available.’

‘I currently work with Jennifer Gardner. Her work is superior in my opinion and we have built a trust relationship over the years. We have great respect for her work and opinion. She is always available, willing to meet short deadlines and is always pleasant. I can count on her to assist us whenever needed.’