Maureen O'Brien is an executive compensation and employee benefits attorney in Holland & Knight's Chicago office. Ms. O'Brien focuses her practice on issues affecting executive compensation and employee benefit plans in sales, acquisitions, spinoffs and other corporate transactions, as well as with benefit plan structuring and integration stemming from such transactions. Her clients include public and privately held companies, as well as private equity and venture capital funds.

Ms. O'Brien advises clients on complex retirement and multiemployer pension issues, and drafts and designs executive compensation, equity and employment agreements, and other arrangements for public and private companies.

In addition, Ms. O'Brien has significant Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) Title I experience and has counseled plan fiduciaries with respect to investment policies, private equity, hedge funds and other alternative investments, prohibited transaction issues and payment of expenses from plan assets. She also has knowledge on nonqualified deferred compensation plan design and compliance, and compliance with Sections 83, 409A and 280G of the Internal Revenue Code.

Ms. O'Brien has represented clients before governmental agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with respect to corrections under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), minimum funding waiver applications and private letter rulings. She also has represented clients before the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), with regard to defined benefit plan contribution and termination issues, and before the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), with respect to audits and prohibited transaction exemption applications.

Ms. O'Brien also has experience on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions, advising public, private equity and venture capital clients on all aspects of global and domestic corporate transactions, including diligence, finance and purchase agreement negotiation and post-closing integration matters. She has advised health private equity funds on multipractice transactions, including establishing and integrating physician practice management (PPM) arrangements and handling compliance, integration and plan design. Ms. O'Brien also assists clients on employment transfers, compensation and employee benefit plan integration, including transition services and employee leasing agreements, multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

In addition, Ms. O'Brien advises a variety of clients in all aspects of employee benefit plan and executive compensation matters arising during restructuring proceedings. She counsels restructuring clients on multiemployer plan withdrawal liability determination and liability negotiation.

Beyond her client work, Ms. O'Brien is often called upon as a speaker and presenter on top-of-mind issues impacting employers focused on executive compensation and employee benefits issues. Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Ms. O'Brien was an executive compensation and employee benefits attorney for a global law firm in its Chicago office.

Ms. O'Brien also provides pro bono and community service to various nonprofit organizations – The Talking Farm, Girl Scouts, Ladder Up Tax Assistance Program and the Redmoon Theater – where she serves on the board of directors or as a volunteer.


  • Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D., with high honors
  • University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., English Literature
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Illinois
Honors & Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2019, 2020
  • Leading Lawyers magazine, 2015-2018