Stephen L. Ferszt
Chair, Employee Benefits Practice

Stephen L. Ferszt

Stephen Ferszt guides businesses and high-net-worth individuals through the complexities of employee benefits, ERISA and executive compensation issues. He also advises on tax, estate and family and business succession planning. Steve chairs Olshan’s Employee Benefits Practice and is a member of the Employment and Tax & Personal Planning Practices.

With a nuanced understanding of ERISA and employee benefits matters, Steve advises on the design, implementation and administration of qualified and nonqualified benefit plans as well as welfare benefit plans. These include defined benefit, defined contribution, 401K retirement, and welfare benefit and cafeteria plans, as well as multiemployer and multiple employer plans, and multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs). He also advises on and negotiates executive compensation, incentive, retention, and severance packages and provides guidance to corporations and executives in change-of-control situations including company mergers, acquisitions, restructurings and dispositions. He excels in maximizing tax efficiencies and avoiding tax penalties.

Clients rely on Steve’s astute advice on estate and business succession planning, wealth preservation, and transfer strategies, as well as on their responsibilities as estate fiduciaries. He helps clients maximize their estates and ensure smooth business transitions and personal wealth transfers while limiting tax exposure. Clients benefit from Steve’s deep knowledge and rare ability to advise at the intersection of estate, compensation, benefits, business and tax to meet their immediate needs and ensure they are well-positioned for the future.

Knowing how complex ERISA and tax matters are, Steve reviews and distills technical regulatory procedures for clients and establishes a clear plan so clients feel confident and empowered in making decisions. He advises on parachute payments, accelerated compensation issues, 409A, withdrawal liability, and a host of other issues. As rules and regulations governing compensation arrangements change, Steve keeps his clients informed, ensures their compliance, and helps them avoid costly missteps. 

In addition to advising clients, Steve represents them before the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and various state agencies. He advises boards of directors, companies and plan fiduciaries on plan administration matters, including voluntary compliance initiatives with the IRS, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Department of Labor, where he has obtained numerous correction resolutions for his clients. He also assists clients in securing private letter rulings from the IRS.

As Chairman of the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT), Steve provided the IRS with direct input on the development and implementation of IRS policy. He knows how the IRS and Treasury Department operate and leverages that knowledge and his experience to resolve matters quickly and favorably for his clients.

A recognized authority in his fields, Steve is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences and events covering issues and trends for attorneys, accountants, third-party administrators, and other pension and tax professionals. He frequently lectures for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, the New Jersey State Bar Association, and other associations.

  • Assisting numerous employers in designing, drafting and implementing qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, for public and nonpublicly held companies, including equity-based compensation plans, nonqualified deferred-compensation arrangements, supplemental executive retirement plans, and change-in-control agreements.
  • Advising pension, 401(k) and ESOP fiduciaries in proper documentary and operational compliance with applicable Internal Revenue Code and ERISA regulatory guidance.
  • Representing plan sponsors in IRS, U.S. Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) audits and investigations.
  • Advising various hospital systems throughout the U.S. in managing distressed defined-benefit pension plans before the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including ultimate distressed termination proceedings. 
  • Advising C suite executives in the implementation and operation of various equity- and nonequity-based compensation programs including golden parachute issues, 280G shareholder voting, due diligence matters, and implementation of post-transaction compensation and benefits.
  • Counseling plan sponsors on compliance matters, IRS determination letter requests, and voluntary compliance matters under the IRS Employee Plans Compliance System (EPCRS) and U.S. Department of Labor Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Correction Program (DFVCP).
  • Representing employers in withdrawal liability matters including MPPAA arbitrations.
  • Advising companies on 409A (deferred compensation), 280G (golden parachute payments) and 162(m) (compensation deduction limitations) matters. 
  • Negotiating and advising on executive severance programs, employment agreements. 
  • Advising clients on Affordable Care Act (ACA), COBRA, and HIPAA reporting and compliance matters.
  •  Represented employers through a Department of Labor investigation of their 401(k) plans.
  • Represented the plan sponsor of a large defined-benefit pension plan in a Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) audit and investigation.



Honors & Recognitions

  • Consistently recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law/Trusts and Estates since 2007
  • Listed by New York magazine among the “Top Lawyers” for Employee Benefits and Trusts and Estates Law
  • Named to the New York Metro Super Lawyers list for 2009, 2013-2023
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® 5.0/5.0 Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
  • Named to the New Jersey Super Lawyers, 2009
  • Awarded “Deal of the Year” and “Activist Campaign of the Year” by The Deal for representation of George Feldenkreis in his nomination of directors and successful unsolicited acquisition of Perry Ellis


  • Past Chair, Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT) of the Internal Revenue Service, 2012-2014
  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), Employee Benefits in Estate Planning Committee, 2023-2024
  • American Bar Association
  • IRS Northeast Area Pension Liaison Group
  • Legal Advisory Board Member, Small Business Council of America
  • New Jersey State Bar Association, Executive Council of the Taxation Law Section
  • Past Chair, Taxation Law Section, New Jersey State Bar Association
  • Past Chair, Employee Benefits Committee, New Jersey State Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association, Tax Section


J.D., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, 1985

B.A., Boston University, 1982

  • Psi Chi Honor Society


  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
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