Matthew H. Hawes helps clients navigate every aspect of employee benefits, executive compensation, and equity compensation, including the drafting and design of qualified pension and profit-sharing plans, health and welfare arrangements, deferred compensation plans, and employee agreements, as well as compliance with reporting, fiduciary responsibility, and prohibited transaction requirements of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and ERISA. Matt's preferred pronouns are he/him/his.
Matt regularly assists clients with all manner of executive employment, equity compensation and bonus agreements, and nonqualified deferred compensation plans, as well as long- and short-term incentive plans and severance plans and agreements. Matt also provides support in mergers and acquisitions and other types of transactional matters, including assessing benefits and liabilities before the deal and integrating the benefits after it is completed.
Matt’s experience includes representing clients during investigations and audits by the federal agencies responsible for regulation of employee benefit plans and programs, which informs his ability to help companies navigate the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), US Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Matt also assists clients with the agencies’ remedial correction programs for both qualified retirement plans and nonqualified deferred compensation plans subject to IRC Section 409A.
Matt advises clients on employee benefits matters related to Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Plans and legal compliance aspects of such plans, and keeps clients apprised of new legal and regulatory developments affecting all aspects of employee benefit plan design and operation.
As a co-founder of the employee benefits practice’s data privacy and cybersecurity initiative, Matt has been at the forefront of the practice's thought leadership and client advice on data privacy and cybersecurity matters. In addition, Matt regularly advises retirement plan fiduciary committees and plan administrative personnel on the intersection of ERISA’s fiduciary duties and data privacy and cybersecurity matters.
Matt is the former co-chair of the firm’s Veterans Lawyer Network, which seeks to promote the leadership and development of current and former military service members within the firm and to assist the firm’s veterans and others interested in supporting the military and veterans issues by building and fostering a sense of community, partnering with clients interested in working and networking with veterans, addressing issues important to current and former military service members, and by partnering with local and national organizations committed to providing pro bono legal services to veterans.
Previously, Matt was a law clerk for Judge Susan P. Graber of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He also worked as a tax associate in a New York-based law firm, where he advised clients on US federal tax issues, including the consequences of capital markets transactions, private equity investments, and mergers and acquisitions. In that capacity he represented clients in tax controversy matters before the IRS and US federal courts.
Before earning his law degree, Matt spent more than four years serving in the United States and abroad as an officer in the United States Navy, earning the rank of lieutenant. His duties included service onboard the USS Inchon (MCS-12) as the weapons officer, assistant first lieutenant, and combat information center officer; service with the 5th Battalion, 10th Marines, 2d Marine Division as a naval gunfire liaison officer assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit; and service as an artillery liaison officer.
University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 2003, J.D., Summa Cum Laude
University of Rochester, 1995, B.A., Cum Laude
Clerkship to Judge Susan Graber of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2007 - 2008)
Awards and Affiliations
Next Generation Lawyer, Labor and employment: Employee benefits, executive compensation and retirement plans: design, The Legal 500 US (2016, 2018–2020)
Rising Star, Employee Benefits, Pennsylvania Super Lawyers (2018)
Member, Law Firm of the Year, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, Chambers USA (2019)
Member, Law Firm of the Year, Employee Benefits (ERISA Law), US News/Best Lawyers – Best Law Firms (2019)