Photo of Michael S. Williams

Michael Williams understands that there are various ways to draft a document, and the most commonly accepted method is not always the best. He offers creative, reasonable and understandable solutions to the client. When clients ask for advice about potential courses of action, he refrains from saying “no.” Instead, he answers “Yes, and…” or “No, but …” because there are usually solutions and alternatives to all problems.

Clients seek Michael's help with complex tax and employee benefits issues as well as with issues related to all aspects of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations.

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Michael Williams understands that there are various ways to draft a document, and the most commonly accepted method is not always the best. He offers creative, reasonable and understandable solutions to the client. When clients ask for advice about potential courses of action, he refrains from saying “no.” Instead, he answers “Yes, and…” or “No, but …” because there are usually solutions and alternatives to all problems.

Clients seek Michael's help with complex tax and employee benefits issues as well as with issues related to all aspects of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations.

He helps clients with the design and administration of nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, including compliance with Code Sections 280G and 409A. He provides helpful advice regarding tax-qualified retirement plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans, ESOPs and defined benefit plan. He also tackles the employee benefit portion of mergers, acquisitions and asset purchase agreements.

Michael represents clients who have established and maintained broad-based group welfare plans, including group health plans, cafeteria plans and wellness plans. Mike frequently advises clients on COBRA and HIPAA compliance, as well as compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Michael also counsels nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations on all aspects of their enterprise, such as tax matters and unrelated business income, intermediate sanctions and joint ventures, governance, foundations, endowment funds, charitable/planned giving programs, fundraising and collaborating with donors.

Michael’s clients range from private universities to Fortune 500 companies to large nonprofits. He assists these businesses with a variety of issues, including:

  • compliance with Code Section 409A, 457(b) and 457(f)
  • executive employment agreements, severance arrangements and incentive compensation plans
  • group welfare plans
  • COBRA and HIPAA compliance
  • transactional tax matters
  • governance

Experience

  • Secured a favorable ruling and avoidance of fines and penalties for a major U.S. telecommunications company facing an IRS Employee Plan Team Audit that covered aspects of the company's operations from employee hiring to separation. Mike negotiated a detailed scope of the audit, and over the course of a year, he walked the IRS through every step of the audit and designed solutions when there were issues.
  • In a case where a large nonprofit lost control of its plan, Mike’s creative strategies allowed the client to regain control over the plan's operation and limit potential liability. The IRS approved Mike’s solution without dispute.

Memberships & Affiliations

Professional

  • American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Committee on Employee Benefits Subcommittee on Regulation of Employee Health Care Benefit Plans Chapter 8 - Co-chair (2013-Present)
  • Louisiana State Bar Association
  • Cincinnati Bar Association
  • Association of Employee Benefit Planners of New Orleans - Chair (2018-Present)
  • TEGE Council - Gulf Coast Area, Employee Plans Sub-groups
  • Loyola University College of Law - Adjunct Professor (2013-2015)

Community

  • Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans - Chair (2016-2018)
  • Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park - Board Member (2011-2013)
  • Greater Cincinnati Minority Counsel Program - Board Member (2008-2013)
  • Go Vibrant - Board Member (2011-2013)

Recognition

  • Louisiana Super Lawyers list (2020) & Rising Star list (2017-2018), Super Lawyers
  • Top Lawyer, New Orleans Magazine (2016-2019)

Education

  • University of Cincinnati College of Law
    J.D., 2006
  • Samford University
    B.S. in Accounting and Business Management, 2000

Admissions

  • Louisiana
  • Ohio
  • Secured a favorable ruling and avoidance of fines and penalties for a major U.S. telecommunications company facing an IRS Employee Plan Team Audit that covered aspects of the company's operations from employee hiring to separation. Mike negotiated a detailed scope of the audit, and over the course of a year, he walked the IRS through every step of the audit and designed solutions when there were issues.
  • In a case where a large nonprofit lost control of its plan, Mike’s creative strategies allowed the client to regain control over the plan's operation and limit potential liability. The IRS approved Mike’s solution without dispute.

Professional

  • American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Committee on Employee Benefits Subcommittee on Regulation of Employee Health Care Benefit Plans Chapter 8 - Co-chair (2013-Present)
  • Louisiana State Bar Association
  • Cincinnati Bar Association
  • Association of Employee Benefit Planners of New Orleans - Chair (2018-Present)
  • TEGE Council - Gulf Coast Area, Employee Plans Sub-groups
  • Loyola University College of Law - Adjunct Professor (2013-2015)

Community

  • Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans - Chair (2016-2018)
  • Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park - Board Member (2011-2013)
  • Greater Cincinnati Minority Counsel Program - Board Member (2008-2013)
  • Go Vibrant - Board Member (2011-2013)
  • Louisiana Super Lawyers list (2020) & Rising Star list (2017-2018), Super Lawyers
  • Top Lawyer, New Orleans Magazine (2016-2019)