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ERISA / Executive Compensation / Employment Benefits

The ERISA, Executive Compensation & Employment Benefits practice group specializes in (i) advising clients on the ERISA fiduciary responsibility rules, (ii) all aspects of executive compensation, including negotiating employment and separation agreements, equity compensation arrangements (including stock options and restricted stock plans), deferred compensation programs, bonus and incentive compensation programs and parachute arrangements, (iii) counseling clients with respect to various employee benefits issues, such as 401(k) plans, ESOPs, and health and other welfare plans, and (iv) representing clients with respect to complex ERISA issues raised in the mergers and acquisitions context.

Members of the department have extensive experience in all aspects of the ERISA fiduciary responsibility rules and regularly assist our clients with respect to ERISA issues that arise in the Private fund practice. In particular, we have a number of clients who have decided to establish "plan asset" Private funds and we have assisted them in establishing those funds and in establishing policies and procedures for those funds so that they would not run afoul of ERISA's fiduciary rules, including the prohibited transaction rules. In addition, members of the department have extensive experience with many of the prohibited transaction class exemptions, including the "QPAM" Exemption and 75-1, as well as, venture capital operating companies and real estate operating companies. Members of the department frequently lecture on various ERISA fiduciary issues, particularly on those raised in the Private fund practice.

In the area of Executive Compensation, we have represented many corporations and senior executives in large public companies (as well as small private companies) in negotiating employment and severance agreements. In addition, members of the department have extensive experience with all aspects of equity compensation, including stock option plans, restricted stock plans and phantom awards, as well as, the unique issues raised in management and leveraged buyouts. We also regularly counsel our clients on all aspects of nonqualified deferred compensation plans and parachute agreements, including the punitive taxes potentially applicable to these types of arrangements.

Our Employee Benefits practice is focused on advising clients on various issues pertaining to employee benefit plans. We routinely assist clients with issues relating to 401(k) plans, health insurance, COBRA, and cafeteria plans.

Members of the department also have extensive experience with ERISA issues raised in the merger and acquisitions context and have represented many large public companies with respect to the ERISA issues raised in multibillion dollar transactions. Our expertise includes not only parachute agreements, retention agreements and all manner of severance plans, but also issues relating to underfunded retiree medical plans and pension obligations and different ways in which such obligations could be split between the parties.

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