Robert M. Cipolla Partner

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Rob is the leader in the firm’s Richmond office of the employee benefit and executive compensation group. He assists a wide variety of clients including public, private, tax-exempt and governmental entities on qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, executive compensation and other related benefit matters.

Rob’s practice is focused primarily on finding practical business solutions for client needs, problems and issues that arise within the technical regulatory framework of employee benefit law under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. Rob has substantial experience in advising clients regarding the design, administration, operation, reporting and disclosure of defined benefit plans, 401(k) retirement plans, 403(b) and 457 plans, employment agreements, non-qualified deferred compensation, multi-employer plans and health plans. He helps employers obtain rulings from the IRS, DOL and other governmental agencies, and also assists clients in obtaining favorable outcomes on audits by such agencies. Rob also regularly provides advice on the employee benefit aspects of mergers and acquisitions and helps clients assimilate those plans and workforces following such transactions.

Rob regularly speaks at employee benefit programs, presentations and conferences. He is a member of the Central Virginia Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Association and has taught classes at the Southeastern Trust School. Rob has served on the firm’s Recruiting Committee and Associate Committee, and is currently on the firm’s Pension Committee and acts as chair. Rob earned his law degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of law at night while working for a large national accounting firm.

“I think what sets us apart from other employee benefit practices throughout the country is not only exceptional lawyers, but our team approach to clients. We can react quickly, efficiently and effectively with the right group of lawyers to virtually any employee benefit plan problem or issue a client may have.”


  • Obtain a private letter ruling from the IRS that saved a plan sponsor $20 million in additional pension costs.
  • Representation of a public company in the spin-off of a new public company and assist the companies in the establishment of all employee benefit plans for the new public company, including defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, executive compensation plans and welfare benefit plans.
  • Advice on the design and restructuring of several defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution plans for a Fortune 500 company.
  • Representation of several university general counsels and boards of trustees in the design and negotiation of employment agreements and deferred compensation plans for executive officers and athletic coaches.
  • Representation of a multinational corporation in a merger and identified $2 million in savings from potential costs associated with non-compliant non-qualified deferred compensation plans.