Find Lawyers in Houston, Texas for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
Practice Area Overview
Employee benefits law is a practice area for lawyers who counsel employers on different types of retirement and welfare benefit plans, with particular emphasis on benefits arrangements regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (commonly known as “ERISA”).
ERISA lawyers, sometimes referred to as employee benefits attorneys, can provide legal guidance and representation to employers, plan sponsors, plan administrators, trustees and other parties involved in employee benefit plans. They may help with the creation and administration of these plans, as well as compliance with ERISA regulations and other laws governing employee benefits.
Some specific tasks an ERISA lawyer might handle include drafting plan documents, advising on plan design and operation, handling claims and disputes, representing clients in court or before regulatory agencies and providing guidance on tax and other related issues.
Areas of Focus for an ERISA Attorney:
Depending on their particular interests and expertise, an ERISA attorney may focus on a variety of areas related to employee benefits and retirement plans. Some common areas of focus include:
Plan Design and Drafting
An ERISA attorney can assist in the design and drafting of employee benefit plans, including pension plans, 401(k) plans and health and welfare plans.
ERISA attorneys can advise plan sponsors and administrators on their duties and obligations under ERISA, including compliance with reporting and disclosure requirements. ERISA lawyers can also provide guidance on strategies to minimize the risk of claims and disputes related to employee benefit plans.
ERISA attorneys can provide guidance on fiduciary responsibilities and liability, including investment decisions, plan expenses and potential conflicts of interest. ERISA lawyers can also review investment decisions made by plan fiduciaries to ensure that they are in compliance with ERISA regulations and that they align with the goals and objectives of the plan.
Plan Audits and Investigations
ERISA attorneys may represent clients in plan audits or investigations conducted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Department of Labor (DOL). An ERISA lawyer can help plan sponsors and administrators navigate the audit or investigation process, ensuring that they are in compliance with ERISA regulations and minimizing any potential liability or financial impact.
Claims and Disputes
ERISA attorneys can handle claims and disputes related to employee benefit plans, including disputes over benefit entitlement, breach of fiduciary duty and alleged violations of ERISA.
ERISA attorneys can represent clients in litigation related to employee benefits and retirement plans, including claims for benefits, breach of fiduciary duty and other claims under ERISA.
Other Aspects of Work for ERISA Lawyers
As mentioned before, employee benefits law encompasses a wide spectrum of matters, including assisting clients with ongoing compliance matters relating to new statutes and regulations.
ERISA law also requires working with government agencies in connection with voluntary corrections, closing agreements, audits and investigations. This may involve working with organizations including:
- Internal Revenue Service.
- Department of Labor.
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
In many of the top ERISA law firms, employee benefits law practitioners are called upon to identify special issues and potential problems in corporate and partnership reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions and securities transactions. Lawyers work closely with public and private investment funds to counsel on fiduciary duties, prohibited transactions and various tax issues related to plan asset investments.
Executive compensation matters are an important component of employee benefits legal services and involve advising clients on the tax and accounting concerns surrounding:
- Equity-based compensation.
- Bonus arrangements.
- Supplemental retirement and deferred compensation plans.
- Executive employment and severance arrangements.
- Securities law compliance.
Employee benefits lawyers assist in ERISA litigation disputes to prosecute and defend a wide variety of fiduciary duty claims on behalf of employee benefit plans, plan trustees and plan service providers, including:
- Claims arising from significant plan investment losses.
- Claims challenging plan amendments or terminations.
- Claims challenging plan restrictions on particular types of coverage.
ERISA lawyers can represent corporations in benefits litigation, as lawyers for employees in a dispute or as counsel on a host of employment law matters. Hiring an ERISA lawyer can help protect interests, ensure compliance with ERISA regulations and mitigate the financial risk associated with employee benefit plans.
Rob Fowler is an executive compensation partner in the Houston office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He has extensive experience in the negotiation and drafting of employment and consulting agreements, restrictive covenants, clawback arrangements, golden parachute arrangements and other executive compensation and incentive programs, including the various forms of equity compensation arrangements, and regularly advises clients on issues under Sections 409A and 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code...
Stephen Jacobson is an executive compensation partner in the Houston office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He advises public and private companies, private equity firms and their portfolio companies on a wide range of employment, executive compensation and employee benefit matters, including in connection with mergers, acquisitions, sales, private equity investments, initial public offerings and restructurings. Stephen regularly advises clients on structuring and implementing equity and cash-ba...
Stephanie Jeane is an executive compensation partner in the Houston office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Stephanie’s practice focuses on executive compensation and benefits matters in connection with mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs and divestitures and public offerings. Stephanie also advises clients on a wide range of compensation and associated tax, securities and corporate governance matters, including the design, disclosure and implementation of equity and cash incentive programs...
Stephen Mason possesses extensive experience in all aspects of ERISA and employee benefits. In over 30 years of practice, he has worked with many levels of the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor, orchestrating solutions and resolving disputes in the design and administration of pension and welfare benefit plans, to satisfy governmental agency requirements as well as the needs of both employers and employees.His clients include publicly traded companies and large corporations...
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