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Practice Overview

Executive Compensation and Benefits

Cravath’s Executive Compensation and Benefits Department advises U.S. and multinational clients in all aspects of compensation and benefits. Executive compensation and employee benefit issues are central concerns in most corporate transactions. Our lawyers are experienced at analyzing the corporate governance implications and legal and financial risks associated with compensation and benefit arrangements, as well as navigating interrelated securities law, disclosure, investor relations, tax, ERISA and accounting issues.

The compensation and benefit matters that arise in merger and acquisition transactions are the primary focus of the Department. Our lawyers negotiate key terms of acquisition agreements, develop executive succession arrangements and design and implement new compensation and benefit plans.

In addition to our transactional experience, our executive compensation and benefits lawyers work closely with our litigators to handle matters involving employment, employee benefits and ERISA issues, including in class action lawsuits that may be intertwined with securities and shareholder derivative cases. We have broad experience in disputes that involve employee noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements, internal investigations of claims of executive misconduct, modifications of employee retirement and benefits agreements and whistleblower claims.

We also advise our clients in connection with the complexities of their ongoing compensation and benefits practices. We help prepare the executive compensation disclosure in the annual proxy statement, including the CD&A, tables and any management compensation proposals, such as say‑on‑pay and approval of new equity compensation plans. In addition, we counsel our clients on the increasingly important issue of investor relations, including the management of relations with corporate governance watchdogs such as ISS/Glass Lewis and major institutional shareholders, as well as in defense against activist shareholders. We are also frequently asked to represent CEOs and other senior executives and corporate clients in crafting individual employment and severance agreements.

Cravath has been consistently named a leading firm for executive compensation and benefits by numerous third‑party publications and has been named a Benefits Practice Group of the Year by Law360. Our lawyers regularly earn plaudits from their clients and peers in the market:

  • “The team is particularly good at managing exceptionally complex topics and processes, and can articulate arcane legal intricacies in an especially user-friendly way. It is a rare combination of skills.” The Legal 500 US
  • “I hold Cravath in high esteem. On the simple and more complicated transactions, the firm provides expert counsel and priority responses, which helps us achieve our goals.” Chambers USA
  • “They provide a combination of competence and customer service that is unequaled.” Chambers USA
  • The Cravath team is “extremely knowledgeable across strategic and tactical issues with a very pragmatic and common-sense approach to problem solving.” The Legal 500 US
  • “Cravath attorneys have been fantastic to work with. They are very capable legally of course, but also help me to think through the business implications of negotiations as well.” Chambers USA