Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - District of Columbia
THE FIRM This employee benefits and executive compensation boutique has earned a deserved reputation as a powerhouse in the market. The 60 specialized attorneys offer unrivaled depth and breadth across the practice area, with groups dedicated to employee benefit plan design and restructuring, multiemployer pension schemes, fiduciary responsibility, executive compensation and tax issues. The firm is also in a strong position to guide employers through the complexities of healthcare reform, and enjoys close links with the DOL, IRS and Congress which allow it to apprise employers of developing legislation and new policies. Major clients include Prudential Financial, Pfizer and the American Benefits Council.
Sources say: "Almost any one of their partners would have to be considered a major player."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Gary Ford is an authority on plan termination insurance, with one well-placed client observing that "his experience is pretty much unmatched in this area." Ford handles the complex resolution of benefit plans issues in cases of bankruptcy for an impressive range of major clients, including American Airlines.
Louis Mazawey has earned a reputation as a "real solid lawyer" in matters touching on ERISA law and executive compensation as well as the design and maintenance of benefits plans to ensure ongoing compliance with government standards.
David Levine chairs the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities and is an acknowledged expert on the redesign of pension plans in the wake of complex M&A.
Andrée St Martin is described by her peers as "just extraordinarily good" and concentrates on complexities arising from Title I of ERISA. She also possesses great expertise in the structuring of products for the welfare and pensions spheres.
John McGuiness heads the firm's executive compensation group and concentrates on executive compensation and retirement plans in both the public and private sectors.
THE FIRM This group is heavily involved in federal regulation in the employee benefits sphere, exemplified by its ongoing advocacy for the ERISA Industry Committee on proposed new regulations affecting employee benefit plans for large organizations. The team has extensive government experience and is able to draw upon the expertise of the firm's tax, government relations and ERISA litigation groups in order to provide a complete service for clients. The firm also provides ongoing counsel for an impressive array of prestigious clients, including GE, PwC and the NFL.
Sources say: "They provide a very good service, they're responsive and smart and think outside the box."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "brilliant" Amy Moore chairs the employee benefits and executive compensation practice and is widely respected for her creative approach to the design and administration of benefits plans. She is currently co-leading the group's work for the ERISA Industry Committee among other matters.
Richard Shea is described by one client as "not only an advocate for his clients but for a better retirement system." He is a veteran of the Treasury Department and specializes in complex benefit plan design as well as providing strategic counsel to PwC, Xerox and other major organizations.
John Vine serves as senior counsel and is a stalwart of the employee benefits field. His areas of particular focus include incentive compensation, deferred compensation and health and welfare plans.
THE FIRM This practice offers its clientele an employee benefits service which is closely integrated with the firm's business tax group, allowing the dedicated benefits attorneys to draw on a wide range of knowledge and experience as they advise on health, welfare and pension plans, executive compensation and fringe benefits. The group particularly focuses on Section 409A compliance and the creation of new retirement plan arrangements in the wake of corporate M&A.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Armed with years of Congressional experience, Rosina Barker is an authority on the implications that tax and ERISA have for employee compensation and has carried out major work in this field for clients.
Kevin O'Brien specializes in defined benefit plan design, executive compensation and the fiduciary aspects of ERISA, and regularly represents clients in front of Congress, the IRS, the DOL and the Treasury Department.
THE FIRM This group's benefits and compensation practice is notable for its depth of expertise in navigating the interface between benefit plans and taxation, as well as displaying great strength in the handling of ERISA litigation and fringe benefits. The firm's elite clientele, many in the Fortune 100, can also draw upon the extensive government experience of the group's attorneys, many of whom have worked at the IRS.
Sources say: "In the benefits world lots of work affects actual people and Miller & Chevalier is sensitive to that. They look beyond the cold legal document and get to what the answer should be."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "spectacular" Marianna Dyson focuses on payroll tax and fringe benefits. According to clients, she is "extremely good and looks at things from a business perspective."
Fred Oliphant is lauded by clients for his ability to marry his impressive legal acumen with the practicalities of business. He is a specialist in the federal tax side of benefits, and clients say he "has been a real asset for us over the years consistently."
Gary Quintiere "brings a lot of thought and judgment to the work that is being done" and is described as being able to make the complexities of pensions regulations "crystal-clear" to a lay audience.
THE FIRM This strong DC practice can also draw upon employee benefits specialists spread across the firm's impressive nationwide network. Attorneys here share close links with the growing tax team and offer a full range of benefits and compensation services including the design, upkeep and compliance of plans and the tax issues arising from M&A, and fringe benefits. The group's client base ranges from multinational corporations to prestigious educational institutions, notable examples of which include Google, Toyota and the George Washington University.
Sources say: "They have a good depth of expertise; they have a lot of people with deep knowledge and great critical faculties."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Daniel Hogans is described as "probably the best nonexecutive compensation litigator in the United States" by one peer, and spent a number of years in the Office of Benefits Tax Counsel at the Treasury Department.
Mary Hevener is acknowledged by peers to be "one of the most knowledgeable fringe benefits lawyers in the country" and is a particular specialist in the field of stock-based compensation and golden parachutes.
Donald Myers concentrates his practice on the fiduciary responsibility standards set out in ERISA and regularly advises clients on compliance with these provisions.
THE FIRM This team of ERISA experts offers a full service across the gamut of employee benefits issues and is particularly strong in the fiduciary sphere. Lawyers also advise a formidable selection of global banks, asset managers and broker-dealers on complex ERISA issues such as the new regulations on global fee disclosures. Key clients include Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and FINRA.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Melanie Nussdorf is described by one client as a "great ERISA attorney. She is excellent at her job and has many great contacts." She is a leading player in the representation of major financial service providers.
Paul Ondrasik has many years experience of ERISA class actions and of advisory work to major clients such as the National Electrical Benefit Fund.
Anne Moran has significant government experience at the ABA and DOL and advises clients on executive compensation and plan compliance issues, especially those arising as a result of recent healthcare reforms.
THE FIRM This small but influential firm is well known in DC for its skilled representation of clients' interests before regulatory agencies and Congress. The attorneys possess an impressive degree of government experience and liaise closely with their colleagues in the insurance, tax and legislative groups. Key areas of expertise include the representation of trade associations and the implications of tax and ERISA for employee benefits issues.
Sources say: "When there's a really important employee benefits issue in front of Congress, the IRS or the DOL, Davis & Harman is right in the middle of it."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Kent Mason is noted as "a tremendous advocate from a lobbying perspective" and represents clients before the IRS, DOL, Treasury and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on a regular basis.
THE FIRM A team of 12 partners forms the DC arm of this respected national practice, with expertise in the drafting of employment agreements and plan compliance. The last year has seen this office assert itself as a significant force in the field of class actions, with a favorable outcome on behalf of client Boeing which resulted in the Seventh Circuit reversing the largest ERISA class action ever certified, in a matter worth $4 billion. The DC group continues to represent Boeing on other ongoing matters in the fields of pension plans and medical benefits. Other key clients include Credit Suisse, Wal-Mart and KV Pharmaceuticals.
KEY INDIVIDUALS William Kilberg is a former solicitor for the DOL and recently oversaw the successful conclusion of the firm's representation of Boeing in its ERISA class action dispute.
Michael Collins is cochair of the employee benefits and executive compensation group and has great experience across the benefits field.
THE FIRM The nine partners in this office are embedded in the firm's broader international team of over 50 benefits attorneys and also have close links with colleagues in the labor and employment and capital markets groups in DC. While best known for their work in the ERISA litigation sphere, lawyers have recently distinguished themselves in the handling of a major transactional matter for GM. Other notable clients include the New York State Nurses Pension Fund and PNC Financial Services Group.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice head and ERISA litigation specialist Evan Miller is described as "a very practical and very accomplished lawyer who has a litigator's sense of legal risks."
THE FIRM Alston & Bird offers clients a broad range of services, with particular emphasis on ERISA litigation, executive compensation and health and welfare issues. The group also contains expertise in actuarial issues and related litigation. The team recently advocated for the State of Florida to address the alleged unconstitutionality of its 2011 pension law. The firm's ongoing clientele also include Hilton Worldwide, Coca-Cola and Bank of America.
Sources say: "The breadth and scope of their knowledge and expertise was remarkable."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Thomas Schendt is a favorite with clients for both his expertise with qualified plans and his considered counseling. "Not only is he a good legal tactician and adviser but he is also politically sensitive to the needs of an internal client: he is very considerate of the in-house lawyer and their position in the company and the politics that go with that," say clients.
THE FIRM This firm concentrates on the transactional and advisory aspects of employee benefits work and also engages in ERISA litigation. Attorneys are particularly adept at reconciling plans with an individual organization's business model and redesigning dated plans to ensure compliance with changing legislation. Assistance is also provided to real estate companies who require REITs and LLCs to be eligible as ERISA plan investments. The group's clients include CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, the Association of American Medical Colleges and Choice Hotels International.
Sources say: "We completely redesigned our retirement plans and they gave us timely, comprehensive and very practical advice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS William Charyk leads the practice and is praised for his "extensive knowledge" of the benefits and compensation field.
Quana Jew is acclaimed by her clients, who say that she provides "outstanding support in the area of defined benefit plans" and "epitomizes what any company would want in a counselor."
THE FIRM Hogan Lovells provides a good service for clients seeking counsel on executive and incentive compensation, qualified retirement plans and health and welfare plans. Attorneys can draw upon the expertise of their colleagues for matters touching on the regulation of healthcare, banking and securities, and also benefit from the firm's extensive global presence. Interstate Hotels & Resorts and American National Red Cross are among the organizations represented by the practice.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Kurt Lawson concentrates on tax-qualified employment plans, welfare plans and executive compensation and is described as "a very, very bright guy with lots of experience."
THE FIRM This firm is known for its ability to manage complex matters in the health and welfare benefits area and for its depth of expertise in transactional issues, especially the impact that M&A has on benefits and compensation plans. The firm also provides services in the fields of ERISA litigation, fiduciary counseling and pension fund management.
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "extraordinary" Mark Wincek leads the firm's employee benefits practice group and focuses on qualified plans, executive compensation and fiduciary issues. He is praised by clients as an "extremely knowledgeable and practical lawyer."
THE FIRM This group concentrates on executive compensation, qualified and nonqualified plans, and issues in the health and welfare sphere. Close relationships with the firm's other offices and government agencies such as the IRS ensure that clients receive targeted and informed counsel. Clients include Publix Super Markets (one of the largest employee-owned companies in the USA), Colgate-Palmolive and the New York Port Authority.
Sources say: "They have a huge breadth of experience and can go to many different sources."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Rogers heads the firm's global employee benefits practice from DC.
THE FIRM The DC arm of this national powerhouse enjoys a strong relationship with both its counterpart in New York City and the labor and employment group. It offers a full range of employee benefits services, with particular emphasis on tax-qualified retirement plans, ERISA litigation and health and welfare matters. The group maintains close links with the IRS, DOL and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Sources say: "Where they have been helpful is letting me know of case decisions as they happen, which makes my job easier."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Paul Hamburger heads the employee benefits practice and is also the leader of its health and welfare subgroup. He is recognized as a "well-known and very skilled" attorney.
THE FIRM This team provides clients with advice on retirement, health and welfare plan issues as well as executive compensation matters. Clients benefit from the DC team's close relationship with the firm's Baltimore office.
Sources say: "To me they are effective counsel because they give practical solutions in a timely manner."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Kenneth Hoffman heads the employee benefits and executive compensation practice.
William Schmidt of K&L Gates is a highly respected name in the DC market, with niche expertise in ERISA, particularly related fiduciary counseling.
Raymond Cotton of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC has a deserved reputation as "the foremost expert in the negotiation of college presidential contracts" and other compensation issues in the higher education sphere.
Eric Keller of Paul Hastings LLP is praised for being "very good at identifying risk and then giving very pragmatic advice" and works within all areas of benefits and compensation, with particular emphasis on the design and maintenance of tax-qualified retirement plans and transactional work.
Scott Kilgore of WilmerHale provides counsel on ERISA, tax and securities and is an acknowledged authority on executive compensation. He is praised for being "very helpful on the nitty-gritty."