Our Employee Benefits attorneys have built their reputation on technical excellence and creativity, responsiveness to clients and cost effectiveness. It is through these talents among others that the firm has established a nationwide prominence as a leader in both the employee benefits and retirement plans fields.
We tailor innovative, cutting edge employee benefit plans to suit each client’s needs. As the law becomes increasingly complex, client-specific plan design becomes even more important. Our attorneys take pride in staying on top of the law and do not rely on “canned plans” or outside consultants to perform these services.
The scope of work produced by this practice group is considerable. On behalf of nonprofit organizations, we design and implement various types of non-qualified deferred compensation plans for key employees, including 457(b) Plans, 457(f) Plans, Rabbi Trusts, Stock Appreciation Rights Plans, Secular Trusts, Top-hat Plans, Incentive Stock Option Plans, Non-qualified Stock Option Plans and Phantom Stock Plans. As part of our overall planning in the executive compensation area, we analyze and help activate innovative insurance products that mutually benefit key employees and our institutional clients.
Our lawyers also design and prepare cafeteria plans, working closely with clients and third party administrators to develop the best possible plan while also enhancing employee understanding and communication. We advise clients on the choice between salary reduction and bonus flex and choice of available benefits. Our shaping of the normal turn-key operation presented by third parties adds immeasurably to the quality of both the plan and the material distributed to employees. We are in the process of working to change cafeteria plan law so that it will work better for privately owned businesses.
Providing ongoing legal advice regarding qualified retirement plans for companies of all sizes is yet another of our capabilities. We have experience with all types of qualified retirement plan design–including the sophisticated cross-tested plans, defined benefit plans and cash balance plans–and we prepare the documents necessary to keep them in compliance with IRS and DOL regulations. Our clients call us on an ongoing basis to ensure that their plans are operated in accordance with the law. We have written hundreds of 401(k) plans, including “safe harbor” 401(k) plans, individually tailoring each plan to meet our client’s specific needs. This group also prepares defined benefit and cash balance plans when appropriate and helps nonprofit and trade association clients design plans, the benefits of which their employees acknowledge and appreciate.
Our attorneys lecture frequently to national, regional and local associations and continuing legal education groups, including the American Bar Association, ALI-ABA and the Practicing Law Institute. These programs augment our technical knowledge and keep our attorneys on the cutting edge of this fast-moving field.
The members of the Employee Benefits practice group are keenly aware of the latest committee and legislative actions pending in Congress. In fact, they are currently working on a major legislative initiative that would change the rules applicable to cafeteria plans so that such plans could be used by small and privately owned businesses. Because legislation in the retirement plan area often takes effect immediately, we believe proper representation of our clients requires us to keep a close eye on Congress. We are proud to have been asked to testify on employee benefit issues before the House Ways and Means and Finance Committees, as well as the Senate Small Business Subcommittees.
Here are just a few of the customized Employee Benefits plans created by our attorneys:
- A 457(f) plan for a nonprofit corporation that allowed key executives to defer up to $50,000 per year into a Rabbi Trust to augment their qualified retirement plans.
- A Stock Option plan containing Incentive Stock Options, Nonqualified Stock Options and a Stock Bonus component that allowed employees to exercise their options without paying any cash.
- A 457(b) plan designed for a nonprofit association that enabled key employees to defer taxes by contributing a portion of their salary to the 457(b) plan in addition to the amount they contributed to the association’s 401(k) plan.
- A cafeteria plan designed for a successful privately owned business that meshed with the company’s health insurance program and allowed employees to select from a group of benefits they needed most.
- A “group-based” profit sharing plan for a law firm with more than 80 lawyers designed to provide certain key attorneys and long-term staff employees with larger retirement benefits than others.
Paula A. Calimafde
Robert H. Maclay
Ronald A. Dweck
Hope B. Eastman
Arnold B. Sherman
Jessica B. Summers