Our Difference

Our Employee Benefits team members advise clients in the design and implementation of qualified defined contribution and defined benefit plans, employment agreements, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), nonqualified deferred compensation plans, health and welfare benefit plans, fringe benefits, severance plans, executive compensation arrangements, and all types of equity and phantom incentive arrangements. We advise publicly traded and private companies of all sizes across industries, governmental entities, and tax-exempt entities. Our vast experience allows us to help clients efficiently and effectively mitigate risks, strategically structure and manage their benefits plans, and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

We also represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in connection with audits and participation in various voluntary compliance correction programs. We also consult with fiduciaries regarding their compliance obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and state law.

Sherman & Howard has been a leader in the area of employee benefits since ERISA was first adopted in 1974. With decades of experience, we offer clarity, insight, and skill in structuring and administering all types of employee benefits plans.

Our Approach

We strive to provide practical counsel to clients on the design and administration of their benefit programs while ensuring that their plans comply with the technical legal requirements. Additionally, we collaborate with members of our Labor & Employment, Finance, Heath Care, Regulatory, Estate Planning, and other practice groups, leveraging the knowledge and skills necessary to optimize efficiencies while providing practical strategic advice and cost-effective, seamless service.

Members of our team actively engage in the ESOP Association, National Center for Employee Ownership, and Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center. Our Employee Benefits attorneys also include members and current and former directors of the Western Pension & Benefits Conference. We stay current on the latest issues, trends, and strategies, and we keep our clients one step ahead in benefits planning and risk-avoidance.


We advise and represent clients regarding virtually every type of employee benefits plan, from creation through implementation, administration, and termination. Our team helps clients with:

  • Responding to COVID-19 challenges and their impact on qualified retirement plans and health and welfare benefit plans
  • Qualified retirement plans, including all types of defined contribution and defined benefit plans, including 401(k), cash balance, 403(b), and governmental 401(a) plans
  • Health and welfare benefit plans, including cafeteria plans, health reimbursement accounts, health savings accounts, and medical flexible spending accounts
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance, including with respect to Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP) and 1094/1095-C reporting issues
  • Structuring, documentation, and administration of various stock, stock-based, performance, and cash-incentive plans, such as stock option, SAR (stock appreciation right), and restricted stock plans and profits interests
  • Drafting, administration, and correction of deferred compensation arrangements, SERPs, and other top-hat arrangements subject to Internal Revenue Code Section 409A
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and post-transaction integration of benefit plans
  • Participation in multiemployer plans
  • ESOP design, documentation, and related corporate transactions
  • Compliance with all applicable laws, including ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code (including Sections 409A, 457(f), 162(m), and 280G), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA), the SECURE Act, the CARES Act, and Medicare Secondary Payer rules
  • Payroll and employment tax issues and corrections
  • Navigating the IRS’s Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System
  • Handling regulatory inquiries, government audits, and investigations
  • Explaining fiduciary duties and conducting compliance audits and benefit plan reviews