Rita Patel

Partner and Chair of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice, DLA Piper

For more than 20+ years, Rita Patel has partnered with CEOs, senior executives, senior HR professionals and compensation committees advising on executive compensation and employee benefits matters. With a focus on publicly-traded companies, Rita’s services span the full range of domestic and international employee benefits law issues, including complex taxation, equity design, disclosures, asset acquisitions and divestitures, mergers, spin-offs and other strategic alliances involving life sciences, technology, finance, hospitality, food and beverage and real estate organizations. She routinely advises on benefits and compensation matters in both buy-side and sell-side representations.

Rita’s leadership and dedication to her practice is evident, not only when working with clients, but also as the current Chair of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice at DLA Piper. Her practice regularly partners and collaborates with other departments across the firm on matters related to complex regulatory framework, proxy disclosure, executive agreements, incentive compensation arrangements and retention, change-in-control, say on pay and golden parachutes agreements. Rita advises on various tax and federal securities laws as they relate to such equity-based arrangements including Sections 409A and 280G, and routinely advises and provides comprehensive solutions on the design and administration of stock options, employee stock purchase plans, and various types of equity arrangements, such as profits interest, restricted stock, restricted stock units, stock appreciation rights and phantom equity.

Rita maintains a broad-based employee benefits practice including designing sophisticated qualified and nonqualified retirement and deferred compensation plans. Rita has considerable experience advising clients in the correction of plan failures under IRS and Department of Labor correction programs. Rita routinely advises clients on fiduciary and governance matters, including the formation and operation of plan fiduciary committees, and provides fiduciary training. In addition, Rita provides guidance regarding welfare plans, including multiple employer welfare arrangements.

Prior to joining DLA Piper, Rita worked for the US Department of Justice through its Attorney General’s Honor Program. Through this program, Rita practiced immigration law first as a US Immigration Court clerk and then as an attorney with the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Rita is admitted to the United States Tax Court. She is a member of the American Bar Association, Taxation Section, Vice Chair of the Executive Compensation Subcommittee and former Vice Chair of the ERISA Litigation Subcommittee. Rita is also a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association, Taxation Section and former Vice Chair of the Employee Benefits Subcommittee.

Rita is a member of the 2021 Law360 Benefits Editorial Board.

Rita is recognized by The Legal 500 United States.

Rita is a Board Member of Children’s National Hospital (Children’s Health Board). She is also a former Board Member of Street Law, Inc.

Rita is active in pro bono projects at DLA Piper where she continues to assist immigration clients through DLA Piper’s pro bono asylum program.

Rita was awarded her LL.M. with distinction from Georgetown University in 2000. Rita was also awarded a Juris Doctorate degree from the Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University in 1996 and recognized for her academic excellence as member of the Woolsack Honor Society. Rita earned her undergraduate degree from American University,graduating magna cum laude in 1993. Rita is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York.

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