Thomas Welk
Cooley LLP
United States


Thomas Welk is a partner in the Compensation and Benefits practice group and a member of the Firm's Business department. He joined the Firm in 1999 and is resident in the San Diego office.

As a member of the Compensation and Benefits practice group, Mr. Welk's practice concentrates in the areas of equity compensation, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, executive compensation, and welfare benefits. His clients range from start-up enterprises to mature publicly traded companies.

Mr. Welk assists in establishing and maintaining stock option, and other equity incentive and equity-related plans, advises clients as to appropriate compensation arrangements for key employees, and consults on severance arrangements for terminating employees and COBRA issues. He also advises clients on the treatment of compensation and benefits arrangements in mergers and acquisitions and the proper tax treatment of various compensation alternatives.

Mr. Welk also has extensive experience in resolving qualification defects in 401(k) and other qualified retirement plans through the use of the Internal Revenue Service's Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System. He also has experience in negotiating closing agreements with the Department of Labor with respect to alleged breaches of fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions.

Mr. Welk was named to the San Diego Super Lawyers list in the category of Employee Benefits/ERISA from 2007 - 2013. He is also a co-author of the Statutory Stock Options portfolio published by BNA in its Tax Management Portfolio Series.

Mr. Welk received an LLM (in Taxation) from New York University, a JD, cum laude, from Gonzaga University, where he was a member of The Gonzaga Law Review, and a BA from the University of Washington.

Mr. Welk is currently on the Executive Advisory Committee for the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP). He is also on the Board and Programs Chair of the San Diego Chapter of NASPP. Mr. Welk is a frequent lecturer on Employee Compensation and Benefits matters to, among others, the American Bar Association, the Tax Executives Institute, the Beyster Institute, NASPP, the Western Pension & Benefits Conference, the American Electronics Association, the Association of Corporate Counsel – America, the Association of Biotechnology Financial Officers, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.



  • New York University School of Law
  • LLM Taxation, 1990
  • Gonzaga University School of Law
  • JD, 1989, cum laude
  • University of Washington
  • BA, 1983

Bar Admissions

  • California


  • American Bar Association
  • National Association of Stock Plan Professionals
  • San Diego County Bar Association

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