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James Bristol

Partner

Trusted counsel for executive compensation and benefits, ERISA and ESOP transactions

James Bristol has more than 30 years of experience representing businesses, governmental entities and nonprofit organizations in all areas of executive compensation and benefits, including ESOPs and ERISA.

His vast experience includes advising healthcare companies, financial institutions and other entities on matters ranging from employment and separation agreements to complex ERISA litigation. Clients value his experienced and practical approach to resolving conflicts and complex issues.

From startup ventures to publicly traded companies, James advises clients on all types of compensation and benefits.

Well-versed in federal and state tax rules, ERISA, SEC disclosures, and the myriad regulations that surround benefits and compensation packages, James embraces the challenge of finding solutions that meet the client's goals. Clients who rely on the firm for a variety of corporate and litigation matters appreciate that James adds another layer of service. His experience includes:

  • Traditional benefit plans and equity compensation
  • Compensation packages for incoming executives and directors
  • Deferred compensation agreements, including 409A, SERPs, rabbi trusts and funding
  • Transitioning compensation programs following mergers or acquisitions
  • Severance packages for departing executives and directors
  • Advises business owners and trustees in ESOP transactions

A creative, convergent thinker, James recognizes that executive benefits issues are complex not only because of regulatory requirements but also because of the public relations aspect related to shareholder scrutiny. He has also served on several occasions as an expert witness on ERISA matters.

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  • Related Services
  • Education
    • J.D., cum laude, Pepperdine University, 1987
      • Note and Comment Editor - Pepperdine Law Review
    • B.A., cum laude, Columbia Christian College, 1980
  • Bar Admissions
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Georgia
    • Washington
  • Recognitions
    • The Best Lawyers in America© (BL Rankings)
      • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2009-2023
      • Employment Law - Management, 2011-2023
      • Litigation - ERISA, 2011-2021, 2023
      • Tax Law, 2012-2021
    • The Best Lawyers in America© (BL Rankings), 2022
      • Lawyer of the Year, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (Nashville)
  • Professional Involvement
    • Member, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Washington and American Bar Associations
    • Member, Health Law Section and Tax Section of the American Bar Association
    • Member, Employee Benefits Committee of ABA Tax Section; active in various subcommittees and meet annually with members and officials from national office of Treasury Dept. and Internal Revenue Service, Employee Plans Division
    • Member, ESOP Association, Washington, D.C., NewSouth Chapter Advisory Board
  • Community Involvement
    • Chairman, Board of Directors, Knowledge Academies
    • Former Member, Board of Directors of the American Lung Association of Tennessee
    • Pro bono Volunteer, Nashville Bar Association
    • Former Member, Board of Directors, Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Davidson County
    • Member, Robertson Association of the United Way
    • Director and Treasurer, Friends of Woodmont Park
    • Director, PinkSocks Life
  • Up Close
    James frequently entertains in his home and has developed skills in the kitchen and wine cellar. He is an avid reader with a keen sense of humor and has been fortunate to have nurtured long-lasting relationships inside and outside of his profession.

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