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James E. Earle

Fax +1.704.353.3230

Jim Earle focuses his practice on counseling publicly traded companies and other complex employers on matters related to executive compensation. Mr. Earle’s clients operate globally in a wide range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, food, telecommunications, utilities and other service-based companies.

Mr. Earle’s executive compensation practice focuses on counseling clients regarding all aspects of the employment, compensation, benefits and severance of directors, executive officers and other senior managers. He has significant substantive experience with all forms of executive compensation and benefit plans, including the design and administration of stock plans, incentive plans, SERPs, nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, perquisites (including executive aircraft), new hire packages and severance/retirement agreements. Mr. Earle helps clients to understand and comply with tax, securities, labor/employment, governance and other legal issues associated with these arrangements, including related disclosure issues for public companies.

Mr. Earle assists clients with the design and administration of broadly-available employee benefit programs, including welfare benefit plans and tax-qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans and defined benefit plans. He also assists companies with employee benefit and compensation issues in connection with acquisitions and divestitures.


  • Best Lawyers in America, 2016 Lawyer of the Year, Employee Benefits - Charlotte
  • Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits Law, 2008-2019

Professional/Civic Activities

  • National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (2002-present; Carolinas Chapter, 2002-present; Board Member 2003-present; President 2005-2007)

Speaking Engagements

  • “Employment Agreements, Severance Plans, and Nonqualified Plans -- What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You,” University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business 44th Annual Retirement and Benefits Management Seminar,  April 2015
  • “Developments in Compensation for Banks,” Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) Annual Meeting, April 2010
  • “The Evolving Role of Risk Management in the Design and Governance of Compensation Programs,” Mortgage Bankers Association Human Capital Management  Symposium, September 2009
  • “De-mystifying the new bank bailout executive compensation limits -- what it means for all of us,” National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP) Carolinas Chapter Meeting, April 2009
  • “Aesop’s Stock Option Fables: A Litigation Update,” The Source 2008 Conference, June 2008
  • "Executive Departures, Proxy and You,” NASPP Carolinas Chapter Meeting, April 2008
  • “Getting Ready for the 2008 Proxy Season,” NASPP Carolinas Chapter Meeting, November 2007
  • “409A Update,” NASPP Carolinas Chapter Meeting, November 2006    
  • Redesign of a public company's management stock plan, including obtaining favorable recommendations from proxy advisory firms, especially ISS, and preparation of related shareholder proxy materials.
  • Negotiate employment agreement on behalf of public company for outside candidate for CEO.
  • Inspect and report on executive compensation practices of public company covering a period of more than six years on behalf of special committee of the board of directors investigating shareholder claims of excessive compensation and false and misleading compensation disclosures.
  • Preparation of executive compensation disclosures in annual proxy statements for several public companies, including drafting of Compensation Discussion & Analysis.
  • Implementation of a deferred compensation program for a public company's key executives, including program design and documentation, negotiation of recordkeeping services agreement, and preparation of "rabbi" trust.
  • Assist public company with benefits issues in all of its significant acquisitions, including retention of key executives and transition of benefit programs. 
  • Assist hedge fund manager in complying with new deferred compensation laws, including IRC §409A and §457A. 
  • Assist client in negotiation of a closing agreement with the Internal Revenue Service regarding audit of the client’s 401(k) and cash balance plans.