Comprehensive and Integrated Service
The firm's Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Practice provides integrated and comprehensive advice to our clients on the full range of compensation and benefits matters. We can address the array of legal issues presented by today's ever-changing compensation and benefits plans and programs, including in the areas of equity compensation, executive and director compensation, retirement and deferred compensation plans, and health, welfare and fringe benefit plans.
Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Approach: Rare among large firms, our practice group takes an interdisciplinary approach to compensation and benefits matters. The structure of our compensation and benefits practice is not split into specific areas of substantive law, but instead intentionally cuts across traditional lines to be responsive to the needs of our clients. Our practice group embraces experts in not only ERISA and the tax laws relating to employee benefits and executive compensation, but also securities laws, corporate governance and labor and employment laws. The structure and operation of the practice group encourages the sharing of experience and capabilities among the members of the practice group and facilitates the efficient delivery of high-caliber advice to our clients. In addition to employee benefits and executive compensation counseling, Gibson Dunn also has one of the most well-respected ERISA litigation practices in the United States.
Emphasis on Developing Counseling Relationship: Our highest priority is to develop an on-going and knowledgeable counseling relationship with our clients. We strive to work together with the various individuals and groups within an organization that deal with compensation and benefits issues to form a base of knowledge that will enable us to provide superior service. Many issues that relate to employee benefits and executive compensation require input and cooperation from different functional groups and we work with all these groups. For example, SEC disclosure obligations often involve the legal, human resources and external reporting or investor relations functions and we can help facilitate coordination among those groups. The members of our practice group have nationally-respected experience in both the design and administration of compensation plans and arrangements and SEC reporting and disclosure.
Regular Communication with Government Representatives: Gibson Dunn's compensation and benefits lawyers handle the full range of compensation and benefits issues for a wide variety of clients. Lawyers in the practice group assist clients with designing and implementing tax-qualified and non-qualified retirement plans (both defined benefit and defined contribution), welfare benefit plans, equity and other incentive compensation plans and retention and severance plans. We deal extensively with the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), Department of Labor ("DOL"), Securities & Exchange Commission ("SEC"), Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation ("PBGC") and other government agencies as well as Congress on matters relating to employee benefit plans.
Specialized Capabilities: We have deep capabilities in assisting clients with underfunded pension plans (including matters involving the PBGC) and retiree medical liabilities. We regularly deal with the many compensation and benefits issues that arise with mergers and acquisitions, public and private financings, ERISA plan asset investments, bankruptcies, and ERISA litigation.
Examples of substantive areas handled by the Group include:
- Equity Compensation Plans
- Executive and Board Compensation Arrangements
- M&A Support
- Plan Assets and Fiduciary Compliance/Private Equity
- Tax-Qualified Retirement Plans
- Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans
- Health and Welfare Plans
- International Expertise
- ERISA Litigation
Gibson Dunn's Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Practice Group offers more than simple experience in pertinent areas of the law. Members of the group each contribute uniquely relevant and diverse expertise that provides an unparalleled problem-solving ability for clients. By bringing together lawyers with complementary expertise and backgrounds to address the increasingly complex issues arising from compensation and benefits, we provide clients with the optimal team to address their particular needs.
A number of Gibson Dunn attorneys who work on compensation and benefits matters have key government experience.
- Bill Kilberg was the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor from 1973-76. He was in office at the time of ERISA's passage, represented the Administration in negotiations with Congress regarding the law, and was the senior Labor Department official responsible for ERISA's early implementation.
- Gene Scalia was the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor from 2002-03. In that position, he supervised all ERISA litigation, including the Enron ERISA investigation.
- Peter Turza served as Special Counsel for Pension and Welfare Plan Laws to the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee and as Associate Minority Counsel to the U.S. Senate Labor Subcommittee. In these capacities, he was the principal advisor on employee benefits matters to Senator Jacob K. Javits (R-N.Y.), the principal author of ERISA. Mr. Turza also served for three years as Management Co-Chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association Section on Labor and Employment Law and was appointed by the Secretary of Labor to serve as a member of the Department's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Plans.
- Baruch Fellner was Assistant General Counsel of the PBGC. He litigated a vast array of ERISA cases on behalf of the agency, including two leading Supreme Court cases.
- Ron Mueller was Legal Counsel to Commissioner Edward H. Fleischmann of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1989-91. While at the SEC, Mr. Mueller played a substantial role in SEC guidance on when employee benefits are securities.
- Brian Lane was the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He wrote the revisions to the Section 16 rules in 1991, and while at the SEC also oversaw the amendments to the Section 16 rules in 1996.
- Amy L. Goodman was Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Special Counsel to SEC Chairman Harold Williams.
In addition, Gibson Dunn works closely with key IRS and Labor Department personnel who previously were attorneys at Gibson Dunn.