Home > Services > Employee Benefits > Retirement Plans


We have substantial experience in the design, drafting, and maintenance of qualified pension and profit sharing plans of all types, including ESOPs, 401(k) plans, and complex defined benefit plans, including cash balance and pension equity plans. We also assist clients in merger and acquisition transactions, including negotiating and drafting of the terms of defined benefit plan spin-offs and actuarial methods for determining the share of plan assets transferred to the spun-off plan, and the transfer of 401(k) plan assets.

We maintain "volume submitter" plans that have been pre-approved by the IRS. Such plans offer a variety of designs that will meet the needs of many clients. We deal directly with officials of the Department of Labor, IRS, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and other governmental entities. Such dealings are often informal, involving discussions of departmental or agency views on the applicability of laws and regulations to specific transactions, without disclosing the identity of our clients.

Defined Benefit Plans
We assist clients in designing and updating defined benefit plans, as well as in drafting plan documents and securing IRS approvals. Our documents are characterized by their relative succinctness and plain English. We look for shortcuts that comply with the complex pension rules, rather than drafting every detail of every rule into plan documents. We are also experienced in analyzing discrimination issues and the requirements for sophisticated compliance techniques, such as the separate lines of business rules.

Defined Contribution Plans
We are experienced in the design and drafting of all types of defined contribution plans, including 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans and employee stock ownership plans. We assist clients in complying with the complex discrimination laws applicable to qualified plans, including the application of the separate lines of business rules for testing compliance with plan coverage requirements.

We advise clients on correcting plan errors and are well-versed in the correction methods made available by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor. We also have substantial experience in assisting clients with corporate transactions involving 401(k) plans and the due diligence activities relating to such plans. We assist clients in evaluating and selecting third-party administrators for their 401(k) plans and negotiating administrative services agreements.

Government and Tax Exempt Employer Plans
Plans maintained by governmental and other tax-exempt entities are subject to unique tax rules that have changed dramatically over the last few years. We have extensive experience with every category of such plans, including state government plans and plans of large tax-exempt health care systems. We have drafted numerous 403(b) plans, 457(b) plans and 457(f) plans, and advise clients on compliance issues affecting these plans.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans
We represent ESOPs of both large and small companies, including those used in leveraged buyouts. Our attorneys have represented owners of closely-held businesses who sold their shares to an ESOP to qualify for tax-free reinvestment of the proceeds of the sale, and we have represented management and other investors who used an ESOP as a tax advantaged method of acquiring a business. Services relating to employee stock ownership plans extend to designing and drafting leveraged ESOPs and profit sharing plans that invest in employer securities.

We team with our Tax attorneys to advise clients on tax issues such as the election of S corporation tax treatment by an ESOP company. We also work closely with the Firm's Corporate and Securities lawyers in ESOP transactions, particularly those with securities law issues.

Executive Compensation Plans
We are experienced in the design of executive compensation plans, including plans designed to meet the requirements for exemption from the $1 million deduction limit on performance-based compensation. We have designed and drafted numerous stock option, restricted stock, employee stock purchase, and other types of stock compensation plans. For public companies, we work with our Corporate and Securities practice area to ensure compliance with the securities laws.

We provide technical advice and drafting assistance for non-qualified plans providing benefits in excess of those under the clients' qualified plans due to limitations on benefits in the qualified plans. We assist clients in establishing Rabbi trusts for such plans, and in complying with the complex 409A rules.

The excise taxes imposed on executives who receive excess parachute payments, and the non-deductibility of such payments by the corporation making the payment, can significantly affect the costs of corporate acquisitions. We assist clients in analyzing the impact of such arrangements, as well as developing potential alternative arrangements that meet the regulatory requirements for exception from the golden parachute tax consequences. We also draft executive golden parachute agreements and assist with strategies to minimize any excise taxes.


EEOC releases new “Know Your Rights” job discrimination poster

California raises minimum wage for all employers

Illinois Supreme Court ruling curtails prominent BIPA defense

The federal contractor $15 minimum wage: Who, what, when, where, why, how

IRS provides new guidance on the COBRA premium subsidy under the American Rescue Plan Act

COVID-19 and employee mental health: What employers can do

What employers need to know about the COBRA premium subsidy provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act

New DOL guidance on missing participants: What employers should know

What employers need to know about mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and exceptions

Preliminary IRS guidance regarding traditional and QACA safe harbor 401(k) plans under the Secure Act

What employers should know about lifetime income disclosure requirements for defined contribution plans

COVID-19 and older employees: What employers should know and how they can lessen the impact

What employers should know about DOL’s final fiduciary rule and proposed prohibited transaction exemption for fiduciaries

How employers are changing employee benefits to address the COVID-19 pandemic

New relief for cafeteria plans and flexible spending accounts due to COVID-19

Supplemental unemployment benefit plans: A tool for employers responding to the COVID-19 crisis

Rabbi trusts: Taxation basics and drafting beyond the model language

Five things you should know about the DOL’s new Coronavirus paid leave rules

Employee benefit changes under the CARES Act: What employers need to know

City of Los Angeles enacts new sick pay ordinance

Retirement plan considerations during COVID-19

The COVID-19 Crisis: Questions and answers for employee welfare benefit plans

What employers need to know about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

SECURE Act: What employers need to know for retirement plans

Coronavirus legislation may impact your paid leave and FMLA obligations

Proposed Section 162(m) regulations: Key provisions employers should know

Proposed price transparency rules for health care plans: What employers need to know about required disclosures

What should plan administrators do about uncashed retirement plan checks?

Minimum wage increases in 72 jurisdictions to take effect in 2020

NLRB overturns trio of Obama-era board decisions

What employers need to know about association retirement plans and efforts to expand access to multiple employer plans

Utilizing profits interests as equity incentive compensation

Seven things employers should know about Medicare for All

Employers: Are you ready for new California HR laws in 2020?

Choice of law provisions in ERISA plans will not result in uniformity

Tips for conducting a year-end 401(k) plan review

A checklist for drafting Section 457(f) plans for tax-exempt employers

Ten things employers should know about individual coverage HRAs

Section 4960 Excise Tax: What tax-exempt employers need to know

Surprise billing legislation: What employers need to know

What employers need to know to implement the new hardship withdrawal regulations

How employers can use employee benefits to address climate change

What’s new with the Illinois Wage Payment Act and four other HR law changes for 2019

Retirement plans under Tax Reform 2.0: How the Family Savings Act could affect employers

A top hat plan checklist for employers

When should you terminate a defined benefit plan? Four influential factors

IRS updates safe harbor 402(f) notices for eligible rollover distributions

5 takeaways from the employee ERISA win in McMillan

Shoring up the PBGC’s insurance program for multiemployer plans: An update

What’s in Your Health Savings Account?

2018 resolution: conduct ERISA fiduciary training

Beware the tail of the dog: 5 tips in dealing with employee benefits in mergers and acquisitions

Benefit issues impacting older workers

An ERISA claim check: 9 tips for effective and compliant claims procedures

Someone to watch over me and my 401(k)

Forewarned is forearmed? PBGC FAQs clarify the use of the early warning program

Something there is that doesn’t love a regulation

Supreme Court clarifies definition of ‘church plan’ under ERISA

DOL revises guidance regarding exercise of shareholder rights by ERISA fiduciaries

Halo looms over new decision that adds to ERISA risks for claims administrators

Are HR employees ‘investment advisors’ under the DOL’s fiduciary rule?

Did you consider the COBRA implications of your severance arrangement?

Technology companies: Are your employment policies due for a reboot?

IRS issues new rules for 'closed' defined benefit plans

Section 409A: Top 10 rules for compliant non-qualified deferred compensation

Get the basics on two federal bills affecting employee benefits

Staffing agency workers and ACA offers of coverage

New rules on the block: SEC targets executive compensation

Nonqualified deferred compensation plan update

IRS releases final forms for Health Care Reform reporting

DOL claims most workers classified as independent contractors are "employees" covered by the FLSA

Two key legislative developments impact wellness plans, non-qualified deferred compensation plans

Department of Labor issues final regulations on annual funding notices

2014 pension plan regulatory highlights

The battle over 4062(e) 'facility closure' liability

Full disclosure: A practical guide for the HR professional when preparing the retirement plan portions of a proxy statement

Missouri employers take note: don't wait to challenge the timeliness of a charge under the Missouri Human Rights Act

U.S. Department of Labor updates FMLA guidance about who is a "spouse" following Supreme Court ruling

Illinois employers face decision as appellate court limits offer of at-will employment as consideration for competition restrictions

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down DOMA: What it means for plan sponsors

NLRB posting requirement struck down by court; federal contractors still on the hook


Breaking Developments in Employee Benefits Plans

Employee Benefits Update

Navigating HR Issues during the COVID-19 Emergency

Financial Risks Common in Employee Benefit Programs

Hot Topics in Welfare Benefits

Blog Posts

Blog Browse: Coronavirus legislation may impact your paid leave and FMLA obligations

7 facts employers and employees should know about HIPAA and the opioid crisis

How to avoid tax traps in life insurance

Higher ed braces for flood of lawsuits over retirement plans

St. Louis

Cathy focuses her practice on employee benefits, taxation and closely-held businesses.

Cathy focuses her practice on employee benefits, taxation and closely-held ...

Cathy Conrad
Senior Counsel
St. Louis

For more than 30 years, Lori has been helping clients solve some of the most challenging employee benefit problems.

For more than 30 years, Lori has been helping clients solve some of the mos...

Lori Jones
St. Louis

Michael's practice is focused on providing practical, comprehensive solutions that meet the business goals of clients in the employee benefits area of human resources law...

Michael's practice is focused on providing practical, comprehensive solutio...

Michael Lane
Senior Counsel
St. Louis

Rick devotes his entire practice to the defense of employers in ERISA litigation related to pension, life, health, and disability benefits, both self-funded and insured.

Rick devotes his entire practice to the defense of employers in ERISA litig...

Rick Pautler
St. Louis

Amy advises employers on retirement plans, health and welfare plans, compensation packages and other benefits.

Amy advises employers on retirement plans, health and welfare plans, compen...

Amy Dygert Stansfield
Senior Counsel
St. Louis

In an era of escalating pension liabilities and sweeping health care reforms, Trish serves as an employee benefits advisor to public and privately-owned businesses and go...

In an era of escalating pension liabilities and sweeping health care reform...

Trish Winchell