Locke Lord’s employee benefits attorneys have years of experience addressing the benefits-related needs of clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. We know that practical and timely solutions to employee benefits issues are critical to maintaining the proper balance between advantage and cost.
Our breadth of client experience touches all areas of benefits law, including executive compensation planning, compliance issues and benefits planning. We find unique solutions for each client and do not take a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to employee benefits issues.
Our attorneys have solid and good working relationships with government personnel and agencies, and we keep our clients apprised of industry changes and standards. We counsel publicly-held companies, closely-held businesses, nonprofit organizations and government entities. We frequently represent plan trustees and administrators, including fiduciaries of employee stock ownership plans.
Our clients include insurers, preferred provider organizations (PPOs), health maintenance organizations (HMOs), administrative service providers, utilization review organizations and many other businesses in the health care industry. We understand the full range of unique solutions to employers’ health benefits challenges in today’s rapidly changing climate.
With many of our attorneys having 20 or more years of experience, their credentials are widespread and varied and include election to fellowships in the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel. Our attorneys hold leadership positions in the employee benefits committees or sections of the American Bar Association as well as various state and local bar associations.
Our attorneys serve and have served as adjunct professors and lecturers at various law schools, including the University of Chicago, the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University and the LL.M. Program in Employee Benefits at the John Marshall Law School. In addition, we speak at seminars and other events sponsored by, among others, the American Law Institute and the American Bar Association. Our attorneys have published many scholarly articles on benefits-related topics.
Qualified Benefit PlansThe right strategies for pension and profit-sharing plans can help employees and employers succeed together. Locke Lord's benefits attorneys design and draft qualified benefits plans, including profit sharing plans, 401(k) plans, money purchase pension plans, 403(b) plans, defined benefit plans and cash balance plans.
We provide a comprehensive service, from innovative plan design all the way to managing termination. Our goal is to contain overall plan costs while meeting the retirement needs of business owners and executives. We advise on compliance and fiduciary issues and regularly represent clients before the IRS, U.S. Department of Labor and other government agencies, handling issues arising from plan audits and fiduciary investigations. Our benefits attorneys – headquartered around the nation – are familiar with agency personnel at the federal, regional and state levels.
Our customized, individual approach to each client means effective strategies on a host of issues, including the following:
Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP)Locke Lord’s experience and contacts in the ESOP industry help clients understand both the advantages and the challenges faced by business owners when they change to an employee ownership culture.
An ESOP provides many benefits for businesses and for employees – but only if done right. Our employee benefits attorneys save clients time and money in structuring an ESOP for retirement and business succession needs and can demonstrate how employee ownership can help a company defer taxes, diversify investments and attract and retain quality employees.
Selling stock to an ESOP is a major change for any company, and Locke Lord's experienced ongoing advice is essential during these transitions. We have dealt with every phase of ESOP implementation and administration, including the following examples:
Executive CompensationAttracting and retaining top executives are critical to company success, and Locke Lord benefits attorneys have years of experience on all aspects of equity and deferred compensation planning for executives. We understand the related tax, accounting, disclosure and securities law considerations, and we highlight issues to consider before adopting an equity compensation arrangement.
Compensation planning is complex, and we have extensive experience in the following areas:
Health, Managed Care and Welfare PlansEmployees prize their health benefits, but these programs are tough to manage and are at the mercy of economic and regulatory forces. Locke Lord attorneys have extensive experience in the design, implementation, documentation and administration of health benefit plans. With our reputation for prudence in this field, we have helped clients contain plan costs, manage liabilities and comply with rapidly changing laws and regulations for many years.
We deal skillfully and confidently with all key players in the health benefits industry – insurers, PPOs, HMOs, administrative service providers, utilization review organizations and a wide range of other businesses involved in the design and administration of managed care and health-related products and services.
We understand our clients’ focus on managing health plan costs and liabilities while preserving the effectiveness of employer-sponsored programs. Our experience enables clients to reduce exposure to health plan related litigation and disputes.
Our attorneys are skilled in all phases of health benefit plans and regularly accomplish the following objectives:
Beyond health benefits, employee welfare benefit plans encompass a broad range of insurance options as well as paid-time-off plans covering disabilities, illness, vacations and leaves of absence. We assist in designing and administering plans that achieve employment and business objectives, avoid costly employment and welfare benefit plan lawsuits and liabilities and are structured to save time and money in administration.
Locke Lord's benefits team deals with a myriad of situations, including the following:
Litigation and Dispute Resolution Involving ERISA and Fiduciary MattersWhen a lawsuit alleges breach of fiduciary duty, receiving comprehensive legal advice is vital. Locke Lord's benefits attorneys have years of experience in the full spectrum of ERISA disputes and fiduciary matters.
We represent clients in alternative dispute resolution settings and before the U.S. Department of Labor. We practice extensively at the federal court level, including appearances in district courts, bankruptcy courts and appellate courts. In addition, ERISA claims by individual plan beneficiaries often involve class actions, and we have been in the forefront in defending many high profile class action cases.
In matters involving state and federal litigation, dispute resolution and administrative inquiry, our benefits lawyers are frequently called upon to perform the following actions:
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87 Locke Lord Attorneys Representing all 11 U.S. Firm Offices Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2014 Edition
Locke Lord Welcomes Partner Michael Kushner in New York as Member of Employee Benefits Section of Tax Practice Group
Locke Lord Doubles Practice Areas Ranked in "Best Law Firms" List, Earning 32 National Spots and 100 "Best" Rankings Overall
Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell Attorneys Around the Nation Rank Among Top in Best Lawyers in America 2011
Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell Attorneys Recognized Among The Best Lawyers in America 2010
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