Kramer Levin’s excellent reputation in the area of employment law owes much to Marissa Holob, who chairs the Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits practice. Holob attended Cornell Law School after graduating from Brown University in 1997, and it was the luck of landing in legendary Professor Robert Summers’ classroom that set her on the path to her eventual career focus. Holob, a member of Lawdragon’s 40 Up and Comers in Corporate Employment Law, is poised to remain a practice leader for many years to come.

Lawdragon: What do you focus on within your employment practice?

Marissa Holob: My practice focuses on a broad range of executive compensation and benefits matters. I regularly counsel companies and senior executives on the design, negotiation, and implementation of executive compensation arrangements, including employment agreements, equity and equity based plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans and transaction incentives. I also advise on compensation and benefits matters that arise in mergers and acquisitions as well as restructurings, both Chapter 11 and out of court. In addition, I represent companies and their retirement committees with respect to qualified retirement plans and welfare plans.

LD: What are some aspects about this work that you find professionally satisfying?

MH: It is such an exciting area to practice in – I never know what the day will bring. And there are always new and interesting questions and issues that arise.

LD: Was there an early experience that was key to how your career unfolded?

MH: There are really two experiences that helped guide me toward my practice area. I was lucky enough to be assigned to Professor Robert Summers’ contract class at Cornell Law School. He was known for teaching in the Socratic method. I ended up loving the class – and his teaching methods! Not only was I fortunate enough to have Professor Summers for contracts but he also invited me to be his research assistant between my first and second year summer. His teaching really helped me to think critically and constructively.

Immediately after law school, I clerked for the Honorable Judge Donald Pogue on the U.S. Court of International Trade. Clerking for Judge Pogue was an amazing experience. While clerking, I had the opportunity to work on a pension case during a circuit sitting. The case really piqued my interest and Judge Pogue encouraged me to explore that area of law. After my clerkship, when I joined a firm, I immediately sought out the compensation and benefits department.

LD: What advice do you have now for current law school students?

MH: Find an area of law that you find interesting and exciting – we spend a lot of time at work and you should enjoy coming to the office each day. I consider myself privileged that I found an area of law that I still find exciting after all these years.

LD: There are many high-quality firms out there. What do you think helps make Kramer Levin stand out?

MH: What really distinguishes Kramer Levin is the people. We provide the big firm experience but are still small enough to really know your colleagues. It is a very collaborative and collegial firm – which not only creates a positive work environment but I strongly believe arrives at the best results for our clients.

LD: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be doing now?

MH: I love being an executive compensation and employee benefits attorney – and can’t imagine doing anything else!