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Michael S. Melbinger

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2006

Winston & Strawn LLP

Mike Melbinger is a partner in the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, and global head of the Firm’s Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Practice.   Mike is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at both the University of Illinois College of Law and Northwestern University School of Law.   Mike is the author of the CCH treatise Executive Compensation, now in its Second Edition, the American Bankers Association’s Compliance Guide to Employee Benefit Trusts, and more than 75 articles on executive compensation and employee benefits topics. He is also on the editorial boards of and Practical Tax Strategies, and the "Melbinger's Compensation Blog" for, the oldest and most widely read blog on the topic.   Mike has testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on executive compensation and he is frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and other national publications.  He has appeared as a guest on the Jim Lehrer News Hour, the Fox News Business Report and other nationally broadcast television programs.   Mike practices exclusively in the area of executive compensation and employee benefit issues for corporations, partnerships, executives, boards of directors and fiduciaries.  He also handles the benefits and compensation issues in litigation, bankruptcy, change in control, and public offering situations.   Mike was elected as a Fellow into the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel in 2005 and elected as a Fellow of the American Bar Association in 2012.  Each year since 2007, he has been chosen as a Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyer and has been honored in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and in the peer rankings-based The Best Lawyers in America for his employee benefits law practice.  He is recognized in the Legal500 as “very strong” with a “formidable reputation in the area” of employee benefits and executive compensation, earning the group a national ranking in the publication.  He was honored as a 2011 “BTI Client Service All-Star” in an annual report published by the BTI Consulting Group that recognizes attorneys for exceptional client service.  He enjoys the highest ranking available under Martindale-Hubbell.   He is a member of the ABA and NASPP.  He also handles pro bono matters for Adoptive Families of America, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Donors Forum, and other non-profit entities.   Mike received a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1980 and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1983.  He serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Illinois College of Law.

Case History

  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law — Teaching "Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits"
  • Author, Executive Compensation, CCH — Author of treatise Executive Compensation


  • Fellow - American Bar Foundation
  • Fellow - American College of Employee Benefits Counsel

Client Comments

  • "Mike Melbinger is the best ERISA and executive compensation lawyer with whom I have ever worked. He is a nationally recognized expert in these areas. His response time is excellant, he is effective in working with others, and he brings a practical business-centered approach to his advice. I give Mike my highest recommendation."

    Scott Hamilton
    General Counsel
    Global Brass & Copper, Inc.

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35 West Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601-9703
Phone: 312-558-7588
Firm Phone: 312-558-5600

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Practice Areas

  • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law


  • University of Notre Dame (BA) (1980)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (J.D.) (1983)

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois State Bar Association

Organizations & Affiliations

  • National Association of Stock Plan Professionals — Board Member

Other Info

Gender: Male
Race: Caucasian
Languages Spoken
  • English