Pension and Employee Benefits

For employers seeking to attract and retain a superior workforce and/or management team, complying with employee benefits legislation and regulations, particularly the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) has become even more critical. Employee benefits issues are increasingly important in corporate and financial transactions, as well. Our firm’s Pension and Employee Benefits group advises executives, plan administrators and plan trustees on a broad range of employee benefit concerns.

Among other services, we:

  • Assist with plan design both for new and established plans, including compliance with ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code
  • Counsel on the effects of business transactions on employee benefits plans
  • Provide ongoing compliance advice 

We also counsel employers and individual executives on compensation issues, as well as advising plan sponsors and administrators on their responsibilities under, and the restrictions imposed by, ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, including section 409A. Our Pension and Employee Benefits lawyers continually work with other Hinman, Howard & Kattell lawyers to provide complete and comprehensive advice on all pension and employee benefits issues.


Plan Design: The lawyers in our Pension and Employee Benefits Group work with clients and their benefit plan advisors, if any, to design employee benefits plans of all types that not only comply with legal requirements, but also provide maximum flexibility and future value for the plan sponsor. Our attorneys also strive to be sure that each plan meets your goals for establishing or maintaining that trajectory. We have extensive experience in tax-qualified and non-qualified pension, stock bonus, profit-sharing and 401(k) plans and employee welfare benefit plans, including Voluntary Employee Benefits Associations (VEBAs), medical, dental, life and disability insurance and cafeteria plans. We also help design specialized and general severance plans, including plan “windows” to encourage early retirement or facilitate corporate transitions.

Compliance and Ongoing Advice: Hinman, Howard & Kattell advises clients on the effects of new legislation, regulations, rulings and court decisions on pension and employee benefit plans. We also provide our clients with ongoing advice on proper plan operation and assist clients in complying with the reporting and disclosure requirements of ERISA and other applicable laws. We represent clients before government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor, with respect to plan audits, plan correction programs (EPCRS including SCP, VCP and Audit CAP, VFC, DFVC, etc.) and prohibited transaction applications. We also counsel plan sponsors, plan administrators, and plan trustees on their general fiduciary obligations, as well as compliance with specialized statutes. This is particularly important in the context of new, often global, investment strategies and specialized products and funds in employee benefit plans.

Transactional and Corporate Finance Counseling: The firm provides advice to clients involved in the acquisition and/or divestiture of the stock and/or assets of both public and private companies, as well as corporate restructurings. We also have counseled foreign companies making acquisitions (or selling holdings) in the United States. We have extensive experience in examining and preparing these transactions to minimize a client’s liability, including the determination of the potential employee benefits liability associated with a proposed target. In addition, we help resolve employee benefits issues related to the private placement of securities and asset-based project financing.

ESOPs: We are experienced in employee stock ownership plans (“ESOPs”), especially leveraged ESOPs. We advise plan sponsors, trustees, plan fiduciaries and lenders on ESOP leveraged buyouts; the design and acquisition of preferred stock issues by ESOPs; and the ESOP aspects of the restructuring of an ESOP sponsor, the acquisition of ESOP sponsors and the termination and restructuring of ESOPs and ESOP financings.

Executive Compensation: Hinman, Howard & Kattell regularly advises individual and corporate clients on preparing and negotiating executive employment and change in control agreements, and stock option, incentive compensation, deferred compensation and supplemental retirement plans of all kinds. We help formulate “gold,” “silver” and “tin parachute” arrangements.

While we represent some of the largest utilities in the region, we also specialize in clients and client plans for medium, small, and very small companies (references provided upon request). Whether you have two, 10, or 10,000 employees, the members of the Hinman, Howard & Kattell Pension and Employee Benefits Group can assist you with all your pension and employee benefits plan needs.

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