Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation


“…notable expertise in executive compensation and employee benefits matters.”

— Chambers USA

Employee Benefits

A competitive employee benefits package can be a key factor in attracting and retaining top talent for your business. But regulatory and compliance requirements can make this an area of risk for employers large and small. For global and multinational companies, the risks escalate exponentially.

Blank Rome offers comprehensive employee benefits and ERISA support, from helping clients design and manage retirement and fringe benefit plans, to corporate transactions, to benefits and ERISA litigation. Supported by robust corporate and financial services, and backed by more than 300 litigators across 13 offices, our employment team can assist with a wide range of issues.

The team serves as a “destination resource” for large employers, both for-profit and not-for-profit, seeking national benefits and compensation counsel. We also represent employers in connection with corporate transactions, such as mergers, stock sales, asset sales, as well as bank loans and bankruptcies, in which plan issues arise.

When litigation is necessary, our ERISA litigators apply a diagnostic approach to the operation of ERISA plans to ensure that they are legally compliant, to correct any deficiencies with minimum disruption to operations and, where necessary, to defend employers, plans, administrators, and fiduciaries in litigation. We routinely represent clients in ERISA matters before the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL"), arbitration panels, bankruptcy courts, federal district courts, and federal courts of appeal.

How We Can Help

Our employee benefits attorneys have experience with:

  • design, drafting, and implementation of all kinds of retirement plans
  • welfare/fringe benefit plans and related documents
  • advice and counseling on COBRA compliance, HIPAA, and ACA requirements
  • drafting and negotiating benefits documents for corporate transactions
  • benefits and ERISA litigation
  • ERISA litigation counseling
  • Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") and DOL representation

Executive Compensation

Tax and securities laws governing executive compensation and the views of large institutional shareholders have put executive paydays into focus. However, identifying the appropriate amount of compensation to pay an executive is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

Blank Rome’s executive compensation team has more than 20 years of experience designing, drafting, and implementing executive compensation plans and employment agreements for all types of employers, including large corporations, tax-exempt organizations (including hospital systems and universities), emerging companies, and investment firms.

We can help you determine the appropriate compensation approach depending on your goals and expectations. Working with our corporate and M&A teams, we also advise you on—and ensure compliance with—the securities law requirements that govern stock-based plans and the executive compensation issues that arise during M&A transactions.

If you are faced with charges stemming from non-compliance with the tax or securities laws, or with the plan provisions themselves, we provide advice to ensure a resolution that meets your objectives. We fully understand the IRS’s correction programs under Section 409A and are adept at finding solutions to problems under Section 162(m).

How We Can Help

Our executive compensation attorneys have experience with:

  • Employment Agreements—from the tax-efficient design of compensation packages to the negotiation of non-compete provisions and severance benefits.
  • Equity Compensation Plans—including incentive and non-qualified stock options, restricted stock, stock appreciation rights and phantom stock granted to individual executives, broad-base employee stock ownership plans, and employee stock purchase plans.
  • Deferred Compensation Plans—including deferred bonuses, 401(k) wrap plans, SERPS, rabbi trusts, secular trusts and life insurance and, in particular, the unique retention problems facing tax-exempt entities due to the limitation of Internal Revenue Code Sections 409A and 457(b) and (f).

What Sets Us Apart

  • 2018 U.S. News & World Report—Best Lawyers (Woodward/White, Inc.) nationally ranks Tier 1:
    • Employment Law – Management
    • Labor Law – Management
    • Litigation – Labor & Employment
  • 2017 Chambers USA: ranked Blank Rome for labor and employment in the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania:
    • "‘They certainly have a plethora of experts, and that's good when you need someone in niche areas.’”
  • Experienced in the tax aspects of equity-related compensation, including Internal Revenue Code Section 409A.
  • Active in a variety of executive compensation groups, including the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals.
  • Several members of our group formerly worked at the IRS and the SEC and have relationships that can be leveraged to help resolve issues for our clients.
  • We invest in long-term relationships and create client service teams to ensure effective and efficient delivery of legal services.
  • We place an emphasis on preventive measures to preempt problems before they arise.
  • We provide value-added services to our clients, including in-house training programs, CLE programs, legal briefings, and newsletters.


  • Representation of a global pharmaceutical business, including handling all benefits and compensation aspects of a transformative merger, and advice on all aspects of administration and compliance relating to qualified and non-qualified retirement, health and executive compensation plans and arrangements.
  • Representation of a large telecommunication and entertainment business in connection with all benefits and compensation matters.  Our work has included the redesign of qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, the operation of the health and welfare plan, and the structuring of the incentive compensation programs of acquired businesses (and leveraging the combined employee group to lower per-unit administrative costs), as well as advice on all benefit aspects of the Company’s 100,000+ employee-controlled group, from daily employee communications to board and senior management advice.  
  • Representation of the U.S. arm of a global, publicly-traded French specialty chemical producer in connection with the operation of its tax-qualified 401(k) and defined benefit pension plan, including the successful representation of the client before the IRS in connection with a material operational failure relating to the defined benefit pension plan.
  • Provided employee benefits and executive compensation advice to a national specialty retailer with more than 5,500 employees, including advice in connection with the client’s initial public offering and ongoing benefits advice.
  • Advised a large regional healthcare system in connection with the failure to implement a healthcare policy for its employees that fully complied with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

News & Views

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