The Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group has extensive experience in all planning, drafting, operational, compliance and transactional aspects of ERISA, employee benefits and executive compensation. Our group’s expertise encompasses the fiduciary responsibility, prohibited transaction, qualification and funding requirements of ERISA, tax (including Section 409A and Section 457A), securities law (including Section 16 and proxy disclosure and other related matters), stock exchange and corporate governance requirements, and enables us to provide comprehensive advice and practical solutions to our clients’ needs.
We routinely represent a broad range of companies and plans on all features of plan design, drafting, implementation, administration and compliance with respect to employee benefit plans and compensation arrangements. These plans and arrangements include qualified retirement and savings plans, welfare plans, deferred compensation arrangements (including “rabbi” trusts), supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs), equity-basedand incentive compensation programs, “carried interest” plans, and change in control and severance arrangements—as they may apply to domestic and cross-border clients. In addition to advising executives with respect to their own compensation packages, we represent plans’ investment committees (and other plan fiduciaries) in their prudent management and oversight of their own employer’s qualified plans under the standards prescribed by ERISA, including with respect to selection and monitoring of investment managers and other service providers to the plan . Our expertise also extends to considerations specially applicable to compensation committees of public companies as they navigate through an ever increasing array of complicated legal, tax, accounting and other considerations in the performance of their duties.
We also routinely represent financial institutions in connection with their development and offering of products and services to retirement plan clients, including, with respect to brokerage, prime brokerage, and custody related services, structured products and derivatives, and asset management related products and services, including ERISA and related considerations for separately managed accounts.
We advise fund sponsors of hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds, fund-of-funds, bank collective trust funds, and other asset pools, both as to the ERISA concerns of fund structuring and ongoing investment activities. We also help institutions in the design and implementation of products and services for retirement arrangements of financial institutions’ high net worth clients, including “wrap” and other fee based products.
We work closely with the firm’s other groups to meet our clients’ transactional needs. In collaboration with our colleagues in the Corporate and Real Estate groups, we counsel clients as to their employee benefit and compensation planning opportunities and negotiation of ERISA, employee benefit and compensation related issues that arise in a full range of corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, joint ventures and start-up companies. In conjunction with the Financial Restructuring group, we counsel distressed companies, secured and unsecured lenders, creditors committees, and ad hoc bond holder committees, and other interested parties as to the ERISA and employee benefit aspects of bankruptcy proceedings and out-of-court restructurings, including negotiations with the PBGC. In addition, we provide support to the Litigation group on employee benefit and compensation related disputes.
We also collaborate with the Personal Client Services group to advise clients with respect to sophisticated and complex tax and estate planning involving employee benefit matters, such as stock options, pension distributions and sales of stock to leveraged employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).