Executive Compensation



We help employers design, document and implement compensation packages that attract and incentivize top executive talent, keeping an eye on market trends.

Our approach

Executive pay and benefits are under intense scrutiny. And the battle for top talent is fierce. Organizations seek attractive compensation plans that give employees a stake in the success of their business.

We help you develop equity and cash incentives that keep your business interests front and center.

Beyond complying with tax codes, securities regulations, share ownership requirements and industry standards, we deliver packages that bring value to your company and its future.

From calculating future trends in retirement, exploring “pay for performance” plans and monitoring shifts in governance standards, we create systems that reward outstanding corporate leadership

Who we work with

  • Employers of any structure and size. We understand the senior management needs (and varying laws that govern) multinationals, family-held businesses, middle-market companies, startups and tax-exempt organizations
  • Executives being hired or retained by private or public companies

Recent experience

  • We have assisted companies and executives in all facets of executive compensation agreements, including:
    • Designing equity and quasi-equity programs for the issuance of stock options, restricted stock, restricted stock units and stock appreciation rights
    • Helping clients implement cash-based incentive compensation arrangements, including programs designed to satisfy the performance-based compensation requirements of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code
    • Establishing SERPs (i.e., supplemental executive retirement plans) and deferred compensation arrangements, particularly those subject to the rules under Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code
    • Developing executive and deferred compensation arrangements for tax-exempt organizations, subject to the complex rules of Section 457 of the Internal Revenue Code
    • Establishing rabbi trusts and split-dollar life insurance arrangements
    • Designing executive severance and change in control plans, including those subject to the so-called “golden parachute” rules of Section 280G of the Internal Revenue Code
    • Setting up employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), including both private company ESOPs and 401(k) investment funds that are intended to qualify for ESOP tax benefits

Ask the Experts - Price transparency rules

Employee Benefit Plan Review | October 08, 2021

In the newest installment of their monthly “Ask the Experts” column, Chicago partner Yelena Gray, Washington, DC partner Damian Myers, and Rochester associate Lena Gionnette, all from the Corporate group and Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, outline the patchwork of new requirements aimed at increasing health care cost transparency and providing best practices for group health plan sponsors to ensure compliance with the rules.

Nixon Peabody expands LA Corporate group with of counsel

Law360 | September 21, 2021

This article spotlights the arrival of Los Angeles Corporate counsel Jean Yu as a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team. Los Angeles office managing partner Justin Thompson is also quoted on the firm’s continued growth on the West Coast.

Wake up call

Bloomberg Law | September 17, 2021

This roundup of notable legal news and moves mentions the arrival of Los Angeles Corporate counsel Jean Yu as a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team.

Is COVID-19 surcharge for unvaccinated workers looming?

Rochester Business Journal | September 02, 2021

This article, which covers the growing shift among employers to take more forceful measures when incentivizing workers to get vaccinated, extensively quotes Rochester Corporate partner Brian Kopp, of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, and Labor & Employment partner Stephanie Caffera on the prospect of charging unvaccinated employees to compensate for health care costs, and the rules employers must abide by if they decide to pursue this path.

Ask the experts

Employee Benefit Plan Review | August 20, 2021

In the newest installment of their monthly “Ask the experts” column, Chicago partner Yelena Gray, Washington, DC partner Damian Myers, and Rochester associate Lena Gionnnette, all in the Corporate group and Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, analyze the Department of Labor’s recent cybersecurity guidance and provide best practices for retirement plans.

Employers must find, tell laid-off workers of health subsidies

Bloomberg Law | April 15, 2021

This article on COBRA subsidies included in the American Rescue Plan quotes Washington, DC Corporate partner Damian Myers, of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, on challenges employers face—from communicating details of the subsidy to their laid-off workers to recouping money from the government that they spend on the subsidized coverage.

Stakeholders await key guidance on full COBRA subsidies

Inside Health Policy | March 26, 2021

Rochester Corporate partner Brian Kopp, of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, is quoted in this article on COBRA subsidies included in the newly enacted American Rescue Plan, noting potential challenges for employers. The article also links to a client alert Brian wrote with Chicago Corporate partner Yelena Gray and Washington, DC Corporate partner Damian Myers, both of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team.

Stimulus legislation gives temporary relief under flexible spending arrangements

Journal of Compensation and Benefits | March 12, 2021

Washington, DC partner Damian Myers, Chicago partner Yelena Gray, and Rochester associate Lena Gionnette, all of the Corporate group and Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, contributed this article summarizing the temporary relief for flexible spending accounts in the December 2020 stimulus law, highlighting important takeaways for plan sponsors.

3 Tips on Complying with the New Mental Health Parity Law

Law360 | February 10, 2021

Chicago partner Yelena Gray and Washington, D.C. partner Damian Myers, both of the Corporate group and Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, are quoted throughout this article on steps employers can take to ensure they are in compliance with the mental health parity law that took effect on Wednesday.

Legislative Fixes for Union Pension Crisis Within Reach

Law360 | January 21, 2021

Rochester Corporate partner Brian Kopp, of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, is quoted in this article on legislation introduced Thursday that aims to solve the multibillion-dollar union pension funding crisis.

Retirement Plan Payout Updates Ripe for Lawmaker Action in 2021

Bloomberg Law | January 11, 2021

In this article on key retirement proposals that benefits advisers are watching for the new Congress, San Francisco Corporate counsel Claire Rowland, of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation team, is quoted for her outlook on required minimum distributions relating to the excise tax, account holders with less than $100,000 saved, and raising the participation age to 75.

Devil's in the Details as Union Pension Crisis Awaits Biden

Law360 | January 03, 2021

Washington, D.C. Corporate partner-elect Damian Myers, of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team, is quoted on how the upcoming U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia could impact negotiations related to the multiemployer pension crisis.

Number of 401(k) Funds Offered to Plan Participants Shrinks

HR News | December 01, 2020

This article on the shrinking number of funds offered to 401(k) plan participants quotes a recent Fall Employee Benefits Briefing blog post written by Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation leader and Corporate partner Eric Paley, Corporate partners Christian Hancey and Brian Kopp, and Corporate associates Lena Gionnette and Jenny Holmes, all in Rochester; and Washington, D.C. Corporate counsel Damian Myers.

Stretch IRA limits may put damper on small biz plans

Law360 | June 20, 2019

Boston Corporate partner Tom McCord is quoted in this article discussing the stretch IRA, a popular retirement planning technique that was eliminated in a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives.

  • U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” 2020 ranked as National Tier One in: Appellate Practice, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Employment Law—Management, Energy Law, Franchise Law, Health Care Law, Labor Law—Management, Litigation—Construction, Litigation—Labor & Employment, Litigation—Real Estate, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions—Defendants, Patent Law, Public Finance Law, Real Estate Law, Securities Regulation, Tax Law
  • In addition, many Nixon Peabody practices received U.S. News/Best Lawyers Tier 1 rankings at the regional level in the following geographies: Albany, NY; Boston; Buffalo; Chicago; Long Island; Los Angeles; Manchester, NH; New York City; Providence, RI; Rochester, NY; San Francisco; and Washington, DC.
  • Employment attorneys ranked as leading lawyers in their fields by Chambers USA/Global
  • Ranked by Law360 as an Employment 100 firm
  • National and metropolitan honors from publications like Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and other directories and publications
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