Member Spotlight: Sandra Cohen, Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Lawyer

Sandra Cohen is one of the founding members of Select Counsel, having joined the network during its first year in operation. She is the Managing Partner of Cohen & Buckmann, an employee benefits boutique law firm that is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2021.  Sandra is an internationally recognized executive compensation attorney known for her compensation law knowledge and for her skill negotiating top-level executive compensation packages. 

Among peers, Sandra is a highly sought-after attorney whenever difficult employment changes are contemplated.  She negotiates robust pay packages for C-suite executives, as she describes, “when they are being hired, fired or acquired” and advises employers on equity plan and deferred compensation design (Section 409A).  As a prior M&A lawyer, she understands the transactions that are transformative to the executives and organizations who hire her.  She guides public and private employers through deal-making and pragmatic problem solving for the pension, benefits and deferred compensation issues that arise in private equity transactions, mergers, acquisitions, employment contract negotiations and development of incentive and deferred compensation strategies.  Clients and other attorneys seek her practical advice and business-oriented approach to nuanced tax and employee benefits issues. She is especially renowned for her accomplishments on behalf of women executives, from whom she routinely helps break industry barriers and shatter glass ceilings.

Recent Trends in Executive Compensation

Some of the 2021 hot topics that Sandra and her team members have been busy advising on:

  • Start-up equity plans and equity rollovers for founders, as well as the multi-national aspects of stock-based compensation.
  • COVID-19 related employee benefits, including changes in pension laws and healthcare regulations, including response to changes under COBRA and paid employee leave.
  • Executive compensation arrangements for SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies).
  • ERISA fiduciary issues, including plan investments and plan compliance.
  • Mergers & acquisitions: management team advice as well as benefits diligence.


Prior to founding Cohen & Buckmann (, Sandra built her reputation as a skilled Executive Compensation attorney, starting with a JD from Yale Law School, then working for top global law firms. For more than ten years, she was a partner leading the U.S. Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits practice in the New York office of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Prior to that, she was an associate for 6+ years at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, handling mergers and acquisitions and employee benefits matters.   

She is consistently honored in Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, and earned the highest possible peer-review rating in her industry from Martindale-Hubbell, with anonymous reviews such as, “Sandra is … a go-to person for many executives. I have known her for two decades and worked with and against her. She has always exhibited the highest level of professionalism and ethics...”   In addition to her legal work, Sandra teaches Taxation of Employee Benefits as an adjunct professor at New York University Law School and has developed a tax research software called Pocket 409A, an interactive research tool created to assist executive compensation attorneys ( In her spare time, she is either cheering on her kids at sporting events, or competing herself as a competitive dressage rider (914 Inc. Magazine took a peek at Sandra’s balancing professional and equestrian life in this 2020 article).

Contact information and further details can be found on Sandra’s Select Counsel profile.