Collaborative, solutions-oriented employee benefits, executive compensation legal counsel
Lauren Schuster assists clients in the area of employee benefits, executive and equity compensation, navigating Code Section 409A, tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, cash balance plans, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), ERISA fiduciary issues, and the compensation aspects of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). On deal teams, Lauren helps buyers and sellers with employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including equity compensation arrangements, executive employment agreements, underfunded defined benefit and multiemployer pension plan issues, non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements and related compliance issues. She partners with transactional and litigation attorneys to develop a strategy and to simplify complex tax, compensatory securities and ERISA regulatory issues.
Throughout her career, Lauren has been committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and has served in various leadership capacities for affinity organizations.
Experience in Action
- Designs competitive equity and incentive arrangements and tax advantaged plans to help employers retain talent while complying with complex regulatory requirements.
- Partners with employers to establish and maintain ESOPs, incentive and nonqualified stock option plans, employee stock purchase plans and other equity incentive arrangements.
- Assists with the compensation and benefits aspects of M&A, including the purchase and sale of ESOP-owned companies.
- Counsels benefit plan sponsors through corrections, plan audits and disputes.
- Represented an engineering planning and design services firm as the buyer in the acquisition of engineering companies located in California, Colorado and Texas, for a total value of approximately $47 million.
- Represented a manufacturer of specialty home furnishings as the seller in its acquisition for $65 million in cash and equity by a leading brand aggregator in numerous different consumer products spaces.
- Assisted clients in establishing new and restated equity incentive plans, including investor and employee disclosures.
- Obtained contractual and plan document changes from an insurer to address ERISA fiduciary risks for employers associated with reference-based pricing health plans and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) compliance.
- Resolved claims related to discounted and preferred stock options, avoided tax liabilities for the client, and obtained release agreements from all current and former employees.
- Assisted buyers and sellers with the review of benefit plans in mergers and acquisitions, including identifying issues with the target's 401(k) plan and providing recommendations related to correction program filings.
- Assisted employers with complete and partial terminations of defined benefit pension plans. Prepared determination letter applications for submission to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), required participant notices and filings to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
- Assisted buyers and sellers with the acquisition of ESOP-owned companies, including terminating or converting the ESOP in connection with the transaction.
- The Best Lawyers in America® "Ones to Watch" (2024: Tax Law, 2023-present: Corporate Law, 2021-present: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law)
- Missouri Lawyers Media "Diversity & Inclusion Award" (2023)
Professional & Civic Activities
- American Bar Association
- National LGBT Bar Association
News & Insights
- SeminarWorkplace Law 2024
- News Release
- Spring 2020Article"Equity-Based Compensation for Corporations, Partnerships and LLCs"St. Louis Bar Journal
- Loyola University Chicago School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 2014)
- Alpha Sigma Nu
- National Jesuit Honor Society
- Missouri State University (B.S., 2006)
- International Business Administration and Spanish