Eric Keller is a partner in the Tax Department of Paul Hastings, and is a member of the firm's Global Compensation, Benefits, and ERISA practice group and the Employment Law practice group. Mr. Keller is ranked by Chambers USA as one of the top employee benefits and executive compensation lawyers in the District of Columba. According to Chambers, he is "praised [by clients] for being 'very good at identifying risk and then giving very pragmatic advice' and works within all areas of benefits and compensation." Chambers noted one client advised said he "treats every matter that I send to him - big or small - as if it is the most important thing he is working on." Mr. Keller is also recommended by Best Lawyers in America in employee benefits and ranked by Legal 500 in executive compensation and employee benefits. He is an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School, teaching classes on executive compensation.
For over 20 years, Mr. Keller has devoted his practice to executive compensation, employee benefits, and workforce restructuring matters. A substantial portion of his practice is devoted to advising clients on labor, employment, and employee benefits matters in connection with domestic and cross-border mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and other business transactions by conducting due diligence, negotiating, and preparing contract provisions, addressing transitional issues, and developing strategies to minimize financial expense and taxation.
Mr. Keller also maintains a broad-based practice representing domestic and international clients on executive compensation, tax-qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and workforce restructuring matters. He advises clients regarding tax, employment, fiduciary, governance, securities, and litigation issues. Mr. Keller also designs and prepares plan documents and participant communications, negotiates service-provider contracts, and assists clients in developing and operating efficient and prudent plan administration practices.
In the executive compensation area of his practice, Mr. Keller designs and implements employment agreements and executive compensation programs, including short, mid, and long-term incentives, equity-based compensation, retention, severance and change in control arrangements, deferred compensation, and supplemental retirement compensation.
In the tax-qualified retirement plan area of his practice, Mr. Keller advises investment committees and other plan fiduciaries on how to reduce their risk of fiduciary liability for plan investments and fees, and represents sponsors of employee benefit plans in voluntary compliance programs maintained by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor.
In the employee welfare benefit plan area of his practice, Mr. Keller advises clients on the Affordable Care Act and HIPAA privacy compliance for group health plans, as well as Health Reimbursement Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, and other consumer-driven health plan designs. In addition, he represents plan fiduciaries in administrative claim disputes with participants and contractual disputes with service providers.
Finally, in the workforce restructuring area of his practice, Mr. Keller designs and implements early retirement incentives and reduction in force programs and advises clients on the WARN Act, state WARN Act analogs, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and other related issues.
Accolades and Recognitions
Listed by Chambers USA as a leading lawyer in the executive compensation and employee benefits field
Listed by The Legal 500 in the executive compensation, employee benefit, and retirement plan field, as well as in the ERISA litigation field
Listed by The Best Lawyers in America in the employee benefits (ERISA) field
New York University School of Law, LL.M., 1996
Capital University Law School, J.D. 1995 (magna cum laude; editor-in-chief, Capital University Law Revie w)
Ohio University, B.B.A., 1992 (cum laude )
Served as law clerk to the Honorable Maurice B. Foley, United States Tax Court
Frequent writer and speaker on employee benefits topics.
Co-author of the chapter titled "Fiduciary Disclosure Obligations" in the Fiduciary Law treatise.
Contributing author to Reductions in Force in Employment Law treatise.
Speaker for the Practicing Law Institute, Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), Employee Benefits Institute of America, American Benefits Council, and PLANSPONSOR.
Contributing author for Cafeteria Plans, published by the Employee Benefits Institute of America (June 2003 to October 2014), and www.compensationstandards.com, the premier website for executive compensation trends and practices.
Other publications include: "What Private Equity Managers need to Know to Limit their ERISA Obligations for Portfolio Company Pension Plans," BNA Pension & Benefits Dailey " (Nov. 2, 2012); "Your Health Plan's Hidden Dangers: Litigation and Compliance Risks in the New Health Care Reform Environment," BNA Pension & Benefits Daily (Dec. 16, 2011); "So You Think You are Safe? Board Members and Personal Liability Under ERISA," Corporate Governance Advisor (June 2010); and "Health Care Reform Requires Action in 2010: Action Items Employers Must Implement Before Year End," BNA Pension & Benefits Daily (Sept. 2, 2010); "Overview of PBGC Enforcement Trends Impacting Restructurings in Bankruptcies," Bloomberg Bankruptcy Law Reports (Nov. 2, 2009).
Member, Employee Benefits Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Member, U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Health Care Reform Task Force, which is leading the Chamber's advocacy efforts in responding to health care reform legislative and regulatory developments
Represented an S&P 500 client as labor, employment, and benefits counsel regarding its divestiture of its major business division with employees in 46 countries, in a transaction valued at over $10 billion. Mr. Keller led the entire Paul Hastings team, which included three other employment partners and over a dozen associates.
Served as U.S. tax and securities counsel for certain European affiliates of a "Big Four" consulting firm's executive compensation practice, advising the firm on complex U.S. tax and securities issues associated with equity compensation offerings conducted by the firm's multi-national clients with U.S. operations.
Negotiated new employment agreements and equity incentives on behalf of a seven member senior management team in connection with spin-off of genetics and genomics sciences unit from a world renowned nonprofit hospital system to a newly established for-profit entity.
Negotiated a master services agreement to outsource the administration of all U.S. defined benefit and defined contribution retirement and health and welfare plans on behalf of a Fortune 20 client.
Successfully represented a large aircraft parts manufacturer in a Department of Labor audit relating to client's pension plan investment in a Ponzi scheme; the DOL took no enforcement action against our client.
Negotiated a $10 million settlement of a $24 million multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability assessment against a shipping terminal operator.