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Rita Patel

Rita M. Patel

Chair, US Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice
Co-Chair, Transactions Specialists practice
She has partnered with CEOs, senior executives, senior HR professionals and compensation committees advising on executive compensation and employee benefits matters for more than 20 years.

Rita is an experienced attorney focusing her practice on executive compensation and employee benefits matters. Her services span the full range of domestic and international employee benefits law issues, including complex taxation, equity design, disclosures, asset acquisitions and divestitures, mergers, spinoffs, and other strategic alliances. She routinely advises on benefits and compensation matters in both sell- and buy-side representations.

Rita regularly partners and collaborates with other departments across the firm on matters related to complex regulatory framework, proxy disclosures, executive agreements, incentive compensation arrangements, and retention, change-in-control, say on pay, and golden parachutes agreements.   Rita advises on various tax and federal securities laws as they relate to such equity-based arrangements, including Section 409A and 280G, and routinely advises and provides comprehensive solutions on the design and administration of stock options, employee stock purchase plans, and various types of equity arrangements such as profits interest , restricted stock, restricted stock units, stock appreciation and phantom equity. 

Rita maintains a broad-based employee benefits practice that includes designing sophisticated qualified and nonqualified retirement and deferred compensation plans. She has considerable experience advising clients in the correction of plan failures under IRS and Department of Labor correction programs. Rita routinely advises clients on fiduciary and governance matters, which includes the formation and operation of plan fiduciary committees and provides fiduciary training. She also provides guidance regarding welfare plans, including multiple employer welfare arrangements.

Her leadership and dedication are evident in her work as the Chair of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice and Co-leader of the Transaction Services sub-group practice at DLA Piper.

CourtsUnited States Tax Court
  • LL.M., Tax, Georgetown University 2000
    with distinction
  • J.D., Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University 1996
    Woolsack Honor Society
  • B.A., American University 1993
    magna cum laude


Chambers USA

  • Band 3, District of Columbia Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (2021-2024)

The Legal 500 United States

  • Recommended, Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans: Transactional (2018-2024)
  • Recommended, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans: Design (2018-2020, 2024)
  • Recommended, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (2017)

Pro Bono

Rita continues to assist immigration clients through DLA Piper's pro bono asylum program.

Prior Experience

Prior to joining the firm, Rita worked for the US Department of Justice through its Attorney General's Honor Program. Through this program, Rita practiced immigration law first as a US Immigration Court clerk and then as an attorney with the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Civic and Charitable

  • Board Member, Children's National Hospital (Children’s Health Board) 
  • Former Board Member, Street Law Board

Memberships And Affiliations

Firm Committees and PG Leaderships:

  • Diversity Committee (Local Chairs)
  • Executive Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Policy Committee
  • Retirement Committee (Partner)
  • Practice Subgroup Leader - Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation (Chair)
  • Practice Subgroup Leader - Transaction Services (Co-Leader)


  • Member, 2021 Law360 Benefits Editorial Board
  • American Bar Association, Taxation Section
    • Vice Chair, Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Subcommittee
    • Former Vice Chair, ERISA Litigation Subcommittee
  • District of Columbia Bar Association, Taxation Section
    • Former Vice Chair, Employee Benefits Subcommittee



+1 202 799 4242
(Work, Washington, DC)