Benefit programs should be a win-win for employers and employees. We strive to accomplish that goal in the design, implementation and operation of sophisticated benefit and executive compensation programs -- qualified and non-qualified retirement programs and health and welfare plans. Our employee benefits team has a long track record of working to maximize the efficiency and economic feasibility of each program. We are able to accomplish this by taking advantage of the complex tax rules and by understanding and rationalizing objectives of the company and its employees. Our employee benefit attorneys routinely work with employees and their internal human resources personnel to assist them in operating and administering their plans.
In addition, our Employee Benefits attorneys have been engaged by a number of large international businesses to act as special employee benefits counsel to supplement their in-house legal staff. Outsourcing and managing these specialized services in this manner provides our clients with cost-efficient access to a staff of professionals with the appropriate level of experience to meet their diverse and often specific needs. To assist our clients in financially budgeting the costs of these services, we provide customized solutions for providing services on a retainer or pre-budgeted basis.
The Employee Benefits group has handled a variety of matters for clients, such as:
- Creatively designing and implementing qualified retirement plans that utilize state of the art testing techniques to achieve the goals of both employers and employees.
- Designing executive compensation programs including qualified plans targeting key executives, non-qualified deferred compensation plans, supplemental executive retirement plans, stock option plans, and other equity and non-equity-based compensation programs designed in a manner to best fulfill the client’s tax, accounting, and business objectives. Implementing and utilizing performance measurements and triggers to enhance such programs.
- Assisting companies in dealing with the impact of the new rules relating to Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans and analyzing and utilizing the various funding alternatives (e.g., split-dollar and other life insurance products, rabbi-trusts, dedicated portfolio’s, pay-as-you-go, etc.) available to meet their executive compensation obligations.
- Assisting employers with collective bargaining agreements on the negotiation, maintenance, termination, and operation of multi-employer pension and welfare benefit plans.
- Designing and implementing a large number of ESOPs and other equity restructuring techniques to transition ownership in a tax and financial advantaged manner.
- Designing health and welfare programs and summary plan descriptions including cafeteria plans, self-insured health programs, and VEBAs tailored to the unique requirements and objectives of each employer.
- Assisting employers with compliance and regulatory issues of all types related to their health and welfare plans.
- Assisting companies with reviewing administrative and operational compliance of their qualified retirement programs.
- Assisting employers in reviewing, evaluating, and resolving employee benefits and executive compensation issues that arise in corporate acquisitions, restructurings, bankruptcies, and divestitures.
- Working with employers to reduce or eliminate their liabilities relating to retiree medical and welfare benefits and to control or limit the FAS 106 impact of such programs. Designing beneficial funding techniques to fund for retiree medical and welfare programs.
We have significant ERISA litigation practice. When litigation is required on behalf of our clients, we provide expertise gained through years of active ERISA litigation, including experience at the appellate level. Our ERISA litigators are significantly aided by our employee benefits attorneys who are active in drafting benefit plans, advising fiduciaries and providing other ERISA related advice. We have defended our clients in ERISA litigation matters such as benefits claims by plan participants and claims for breach of fiduciary duty (including prohibited transactions and ESOP valuation disputes, investment losses and other plan administration issues).
Our attorneys have represented and continue to represent employers and plan sponsors, retirement and health and welfare plan fiduciaries, third party administrators, and fiduciary liability insurers in all aspects of ERISA litigation.