Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

We help our clients understand the complex legal requirements applicable to their benefit and compensation programs and provide them with practical solutions to maximize the programs’ value while minimizing risk.

Attorneys in HSE’s nationally recognized Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group work with employers on a wide and varied range of employee benefit and executive compensation plans. We assist with some of the largest and most sophisticated employee benefit programs in the country. In the complex and ever-evolving world of employee benefits, our group provides invaluable advice and services. On a daily basis, our attorneys interact with clients on complex benefits issues including plan design, legal compliance, document drafting, legislative and regulatory changes, litigation issues, fiduciary protection, and plan investments, including private equity investments.

We are very hands on with the counsel and training we provide, walking clients through exactly what they need to know.  Clients tell us we have great skill in translating complex concepts for the appropriate audience – whether it be a corporate board, CEO, or HR staff. 

With Tier 1 rankings in Employee Benefits (ERISA) law in the U.S. News - Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” survey, clients know they are working with lawyers who are leaders in their field, with experience handling the full range of employee benefits and executive compensation issues including:

  • Corporate Transactions
  • Benefits Integration
  • Retirement Plans
  • Health and Welfare Benefit Programs
  • Employee Benefits Litigation
  • Executive Benefits Planning
  • Employment Agreements
  • Equity-Based Compensation
  • Performance-Based Compensation
  • Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Arrangements
  • Severance Arrangements
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Change-in-Control Protection
  • Split-Dollar Life Insurance Arrangements
  • Director Compensation Arrangements
  • Compensation Committee Advice
  • Payroll Reporting

What We See On the Horizon

Contact our Employee Benefits team for our latest insights about the following:

Fiduciary duties and oversight
In an increasingly litigious environment, plan sponsors need to focus on governance structures for their employee benefit plans.  In addition, the plans themselves may be used in a defensive fashion in order to better position the sponsor and fiduciaries in the event of litigation or governmental investigation.  We not only help design and implement governance structures, but we also provide regular training and support for plan fiduciaries.   

White label funds
With an eye to current investment trends and a focus on reducing fees, many plan sponsors are moving to use so-called “white label” funds – i.e., generically named funds that have no reference to a fund company – as investment options.  Since white label funds are not registered investments, they bring with them unique disclosure and communication issues.  We have extensive experience working with employers to create white label funds for large 401K plans and to assist them with the related disclosure and communication strategies, and we expect the use of these funds to continue to increase.

Public Company Spin Off Closes with Benefit Programs in Place for New Entity

Where we started: When a Fortune 100 company sought to spin off its financial planning and advisory arm, we were retained to design and implement the employee benefits programs for the new entity.  We knew that a smooth transition was vital to all parties.

Our strategy: Starting with the benefits matters agreement that outlined the terms and conditions of the spin-off, we designed and implemented a brand new benefits structure for the new entity.  We used this opportunity to simplify and streamline the existing programs where possible and to implement plan governance best practices.   In addition to setting up the basic infrastructure of benefit plans, we also created charters for the fiduciary committees, handled the division of assets within the retirement plans, and prepared all plan documentation and all required regulatory filings.

The outcome: The new entity went live with a full suite of employee benefit programs on day one, resulting in a seamless transition for employees.

Consolidating and Streamlining Benefit Programs for an International Not-for-Profit

Where we started: When we were retained by a large and international not-for-profit organization, the organization had a complex structure of benefit programs with inconsistent provisions. 

Our strategy: We worked with the client to streamline the benefits programs where possible and align terms and conditions in order to achieve better consistency and alignment of benefits for employees throughout the organization.

The outcome: The new benefits regime which resulted from the redesign and realignment will significantly reduce both costs and compliance errors associated with the more complicated, overlapping and redundant prior regime.

Key Contacts


This website presents only general information not intended as legal advice. Although we encourage calls, letters and emails from prospective clients, please keep in mind that merely contacting Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Confidential information should not be sent to HSE until you have been notified in writing by HSE that a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Information sent to us before then may not be treated as confidential by HSE or the court.

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