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Calfee's nationally recognized Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice group advises business and governmental clients on managing their most challenging legal and business issues related to benefits and compensation.

In addition to extensive experience with tax-qualified retirement and employee health and welfare benefit plans, the group’s practice also has a significant focus on the design and implementation of sophisticated executive compensation programs, ESOPs, merger and acquisition matters, and ERISA litigation. 

Calfee represents publicly and privately held corporations, nonprofit organizations, banks and trust departments, and government entities in all phases of designing and administering employee benefit and retirement programs.

Calfee regularly advises large employers and governmental retirement systems on designing and administering their employee benefit plans, including drafting plan documents and summary plan descriptions, administering claims requests and appeals, and negotiating with recordkeepers, third-party plan administrators, pharmacy benefit managers and other service providers.

In addition, Calfee advises clients with large pension plans and 401(k) plans on matters related to the investment of their plan assets, such as investment manager and adviser arrangements, investments in private equity and hedge funds, transition management arrangements and compliance with regulatory requirements.   


Chambers USA Band 2 Ranking in Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Ohio)

Calfee's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation group is consistently recognized by Chambers USA. Most recently, in Chambers USA 2020, Calfee was ranked in Band 2 for Ohio. Chambers USA 2020 commentators note that the practice is known as a "respected group that works with a range of clients, including nonprofit organizations, public entities and private corporations. Noted capabilities in ESOPs, ERISA litigation and M&A-related issues. They are well equipped to advise clients on compliance with both government regulations and fiduciary rules."

One client commented that "they're trusted partners who are fantastic and cost effective and their guidance is always top-tier, on point, calculated and strategic." Another commentator stated, "their strength is their knowledge of ERISA, employee benefits and our plans; they always make time for our team, no matter how much we throw at them, they always get it done."

Practice Chair, Robert A. Miller, was ranked in Chambers USA 2020 in Band 2. Chambers noted the following client feedback: "Robert Miller is very knowledgeable and helpful in identifying solutions to complex problems. He always makes himself available and is thorough in all his work."

Steven W. Day, Partner, was ranked in Band 3 in the Chambers USA 2020 Guide. He is noted as an attorney who "works the timelines very well, gets us good work product, and meets my expectations every time."

U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firm" Rankings

Calfee was selected for inclusion to "Best Law Firms" for ERISA Litigation (National Tier 2, Metropolitan Tier 1 Cleveland) and Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (National Tier 3, Metropolitan Tier 1 Cleveland) by U.S. News–Best Lawyers in America 2020. 




Executive Compensation

  • Employment and consulting contracts
  • Equity and phantom equity compensation plans
  • Incentive compensation / bonus plans
  • Non-qualified deferred compensation (Section 409A)
  • Change in control arrangements
  • Supplemental executive retirement plans
  • 401(k) wraparound plans
  • 457(b) plans
  • Executive perquisites
  • Public disclosure and reporting requirements for publicly held companies

Qualified Retirement Plans

  • 401(k) plans
  • Pension, profit sharing, stock bonus plans and 403(b) plans
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
  • Cross tested plans
  • Cash balance plans
  • IRS approval process
  • Plan design and documentation
  • Coverage and nondiscrimination testing support
  • Governmental retirement plans
  • Church retirement plans

Health and Welfare Benefits

  • Self-insured health plans
  • Health Savings Accounts
  • Health Reimbursement Accounts
  • Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) arrangements
  • Retiree Health Plans
  • Medicare Parts C and D
  • Employer Group Waiver Plans (EGWPs)
  • Cafeteria (Section 125) Plans
  • Flexible benefit plans
  • VEBAs
  • Governmental health plans
  • Church health plans
  • Affordable Care Act compliance

Investment Management

  • Investment Management Agreements for separate accounts
  • Investments in private equity funds, hedge funds, real estate funds, collective investment trusts, infrastructure funds
  • Arrangements with 3(38) and 3(21) fiduciary managers and advisors
  • Transition management arrangements
  • CFTC, NFA, ISDA compliance
  • Investment policy statements

Regulatory Compliance

  • Regulatory interpretation
  • Fiduciary compliance
  • Reporting and disclosure
  • Investment management compliance
  • ACA, HIPAA and COBRA compliance
  • IRS and DOL audits
  • IRS and DOL correction programs

Mergers and Acquisitions 

  • Transaction structuring
  • Compliance and liability analysis
  • Defined benefit and multi-employer plan liabilities
  • Plan mergers and spin-offs


  • Alternative equity transfer techniques
  • Analysis of stock redemption issues
  • Assistance in obtaining appraisals and financing
  • Corporate governance and equity issues
  • S corporation ESOPs
  • Phantom and synthetic equity arrangements

ERISA Litigation

  • Disputed benefit claims (administrative proceedings and litigation)
  • Breach of fiduciary duty claims
  • Discrimination claims under ERISA Section 510
  • COBRA claims
  • Multi-employer withdrawal liability claims
  • Department of Labor proceedings

Representative Clients

Representative Clients

A list of Calfee's representative Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice clients include the following:

  • Align Capital Partners
  • American Consolidated Industries
  • Americhem, Inc.
  • Automated Packaging Systems, Inc.
  • CapitalWorks, LLC
  • The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland
  • Chart Industries, Inc.
  • Clark-Reliance Corp.
  • Clearstead Advisors LLC (formerly known as Hartland & Co.)
  • Covia Holdings Corporation
  • Ferro Corporation
  • FirstEnergy Corp.
  • Hartzell Propeller Inc. / Tailwind Technologies, Inc.
  • Hickok Incorporated
  • Hyland Software, Inc.
  • Invacare Corporation
  • The J. M. Smucker Company
  • Keller Group, Inc.
  • Key Bank Investment Services
  • Kirkwood Holding Inc.
  • Koroseal RJF International Corporation
  • Linsalata Group
  • MarshBerry
  • MavenHill Capital
  • Medical Mutual of Ohio
  • Mettler-Toledo
  • Morrison Products, Inc.
  • MYR Group, Inc.
  • Nestlé USA, Inc. and Nestlé Holdings, Inc., and related companies, including Nestlé Prepared Foods Co., Nestlé Purina Petcare Company and Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition, Gerber Products Company, Gerber Life Insurance Co. and Nestlé Dreyers Ice Cream Company
  • Oatey Co.
  • Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System
  • Oswald Companies
  • Playhouse Square Foundation
  • Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company
  • RPM International Inc., and related companies, including Tremco Incorporated, Carboline Company, Day-Glo Color Corp. and Dryvit Systems, Inc., Rust-Oleum Corporation, DAP Products, Inc., and Zinsser Co., Inc.
  • School Employees Retirement System of Ohio
  • State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio
  • Tradesmen International, LLC

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Practice Contacts

"It is an excellent firm. The lawyers do a great job, are cost effective and have strong expertise in this area."

Chambers USA 2020

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