Our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group assists a variety of clients with a wide range of needs, enabling us to develop a broad practice with strength across the many areas of benefits-related legal compliance.

Ballard Spahr has a world-class health care practice focused on the continually changing legal landscape of health benefit plans. A sizable number of our clients still sponsor defined benefit pension plans, and we are advising those clients on issues, including the merger and spin-off of pension plans, the correction of significant minimum funding failures, and the termination of billion-dollar pension plans.

We advise on ERISA and related federal and state laws governing benefits and compensation for clients ranging from publicly traded, Fortune 100 corporations to privately held and regional companies. Our attorneys focus on four major areas: executive compensation and incentive plans; qualified and non-qualified retirement plans; health and welfare benefit plans; and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).

  • When clients wish to implement a new equity-based, cash-based incentive or deferred compensation program, we provide guidance on documenting and implementing a program while avoiding significant tax traps and satisfying all shareholder disclosure requirements, including the stock exchange rules.
  • When clients need assistance in solving a 401(k) or 403(b) compliance problem or have issues with a defined benefit pension plan, we draw upon the experience of our attorneys who worked at the IRS and have decades of experience negotiating with federal agencies.
  • When clients seek ideas on how to control the sharply increasing cost of providing employee and retiree health benefits or HIPAA compliance, we create and evaluate solutions based on our experience advising some of the largest and most sophisticated employee health plans in the nation.

We advise clients throughout the life span of an ESOP, from design and planning to compliance, implementation, financing, corporate governance, and merger and acquisition activities. Our national ESOP team facilitates the tax-favored transfer of employer stock to employees. We represent independent trustees, sellers, ESOP companies, and their employee owners in related legal and transactional matters.

In addition, we provide advice to employers that participate in multiemployer pension, retirement savings, health and welfare, and other types of benefit plans for their unionized workforce. In particular, we counsel clients on bargaining strategy involving multiemployer plan contribution obligations and withdrawal liability, including the impact of multiemployer plans that are in critical or endangered status or have adopted rehabilitation plans. We also represent employers in matters relating to delinquent contributions to multiemployer plans and the assessment and settlement of withdrawal liability.

Our team works closely with the firm's corporate lawyers to analyze the employee benefits and executive compensation implications of acquisitions, divestitures, and corporate reorganizations. We also advise plan sponsors, plan committees, investment funds, record keepers, and investment advisors on fiduciary and governance matters.

Should litigation arise, we work with the litigators in our Labor and Employment Group to represent employers, plans, fiduciaries, and administrators in all aspects of ERISA litigation, from class action lawsuits to routine claims for benefits by a single participant.


Brian M. Pinheiro
Practice Leader
Tel 215.864.8511