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Employee Benefits & ERISA

LeClairRyan’s Compensation and Benefits attorneys provide comprehensive executive compensation and employee benefits services to a diverse group of clients. More specifically, we assist clients in all aspects of implementing and maintaining tax qualified retirement plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans and executive compensation programs, and welfare benefit plans. We also address Internal Revenue Code and ERISA compliance issues and fiduciary issues, handle the benefits aspects of mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies, and assist with the resolution of benefit claims and ERISA litigation. Our clients range in type and size from publicly held companies with more than 25,000 employees to small privately-held companies and professional service corporations.

The complexity of employee benefits law requires extensive knowledge and experience. The attorneys at LeClairRyan have the experience and background to effectively assist our clients with practical, results-oriented advice. We deal regularly with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor (DOL), Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and assist clients in obtaining private letter rulings, determination letters, exemptions, and informal guidance from these agencies.

LeClairRyan’s Compensation and Benefits attorneys assist clients in the following ways:


We advise clients on all aspects of qualified retirement plans, including:

  • Designing, drafting, and implementing plans
  • Pension or defined benefit plans
  • Cash balance plans
  • 401(k), profit-sharing, and other defined contribution plans
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)
  • Obtaining rulings and determination letters on plan qualification and other issues from the IRS, DOL, and PBGC
  • Providing advice on plan administration and operational requirements
  • Assisting with selecting, retaining and monitoring plan service providers including investment advisers and third party administrators
  • Assisting with employee communications
  • Correcting plan administration and other errors through voluntary compliance initiatives such as the IRS Employee Plans
  • Compliance Resolution System and the DOL Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
  • Representing clients in plan audits and other IRS or DOL investigations


We advise clients on the securities laws as well as the tax and ERISA requirements of executive compensation arrangements. We regularly negotiate and draft plans and programs and assist with the following:

  • Employment and consulting contracts 
  • Severance agreements 
  • Deferred compensation and supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) 
  • Incentive compensation/bonus plans 
  • Change in control arrangements/rabbi trusts 
  • Stock options/restricted stock 
  • Split dollar arrangements 
  • DOL and SEC filings


Our broad welfare benefits practice includes drafting and operational advice about medical, dental, vision, cafeteria, disability, life insurance, and severance plans. We assist clients with all aspects of welfare benefit plans including:

  • Designing, drafting and implementing plans 
  • Cafeteria plans including premium conversion plans and flexible spending accounts 
  • Dependent care assistance programs 
  • Adoption assistance programs 
  • Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations (VEBAs) 
  • Providing advice on self-insured arrangements 
  • Assisting with selecting, retaining, and monitoring plan service providers and insurance carriers 
  • Providing advice on COBRA and HIPAA compliance


We actively support and work with the firm’s significant transactional and bankruptcy practices, performing both legal and quantitative benefits due diligence, negotiating and handling the benefits-related aspects of the transaction or bankruptcy, and following through with and addressing:

  • Plan set-ups, plan spin-offs, plan mergers or plan asset and liability transfers
  • Plan terminations, whether voluntary terminations or “distress” terminations
  • Participant communications
  • IRS, DOL and PBGC filings
  • Providing advice on successor liability under COBRA and compliance with HIPAA
  • Designing, drafting and implementing early retirement incentives, window retirement, and welfare benefits and severance programs


We provide advice to clients on the ERISA implications of their business activities. Fiduciary issues include matters such as plan asset issues, prohibited transactions and available exemptions, and fiduciary standards of conduct. We assist clients with all aspects of fiduciary compliance including the following:

  • Designing, drafting and implementing operating policies for administrative and investment committees and other ERISA fiduciaries 
  • Designing, drafting, and implementing investment policy statements or guidelines for plan investment committees
  • Serving as counsel at administrative and investment committee meetings


We assist both clients and support litigation attorneys in the firm in handling benefit claims and appeals and other issues under retirement and welfare plans including these:

  • Disputed benefit claims (administrative proceedings and litigation)
  • Breach of fiduciary duty claims 
  • Retaliation or discrimination claims under Section 510 of ERISA 
  • COBRA and HIPAA claims 
  • Multi-employer plan withdrawal liability claims  


  • 804.343.4178