Brian Giovannini


Education and Clerkships

J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 2008, with honors; Board of Advocates; semifinalist 2006 Gardere Novice Mock Trial Competition

B.A., University of Houston, 2005, cum laude; (graduated from Honors College)

Certificate in Italian Language, UniversitĂ  per Stranieri di Siena, 1994


Texas, 2008

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, 2016

U.S. Tax Court, 2012




Brian Giovannini serves as an advisor and benefits counsel to a diverse group of clients—from local governments to Fortune Global 500 corporations. Brian’s clients value his in-depth technical knowledge and analytical skills, as well as his prompt assistance on numerous legal issues affecting the development and operation of their pension plans and executive compensation plans and agreements.

Brian leverages creativity in his day-to-day legal practice—whether he’s uncovering a novel solution to a client’s compliance problem, or designing a new integrated bonus-pool compensation structure that is unique to the client’s business needs. Brian has restated and merged pension plans, provided counsel regarding liability, de-risking solutions for pension plans, and assisted in redesigning a comprehensive global benefits program.

With a background in teaching and public-speaking, Brian presents complex benefits issues in a concise and straightforward manner. Brian lectures to industry groups on various employee benefits topics, as well as providing in-depth ERISA fiduciary training to executives and plan committees.

Professional and Community Activities

  • Chairman, Board of Directors, International Primate Protection League
  • Texas Bar Association, Tax Section
  • Houston Bar Association



Haynes and Boone Advises NET Midstream in Pipeline Sale to NextEra Energy Partners for $2.1 Billion

A team of Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers from four different offices acted as co-counsel to NET Midstream in connection with the sale of all of its membership interests and corresponding business consisting of seven natural gas pipelines to NextEra Energy Partners, LP for $2.1 billion.

Selected Client Representations

  • Amended and restated defined benefit, cash balance, ESOP and 401(k) plans to remain compliant with recent changes in federal law including EGTRRA, PPA, WRERA and the HEART Act. Restated plans in conjunction with cyclical determination letter submissions.
  • Assisted clients with correcting multiple plan failures by submission through the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) established by the IRS. Counseled clients through all steps of the process including determining the proper methods for implementing operational compliance and correcting for past noncompliance. Representative sample of plan failures include participation by ineligible employees, improper plan loan, non-amender, incorrect service-crediting, failure to make the required minimum distributions, and administering the plan using a different benefit formula than in the plan document.
  • Reviewed and amended nonqualified deferred compensation plans to comply with Code Section 409A. Counseled clients on recommendations to retain compliant nonqualified plans and on the process for terminating nonqualified plans.
  • Assisted clients in developing ERISA provisions for multiple credit facilities.
  • Drafted successor defined benefit plan to cover employees acquired as the result of an asset acquisition.
  • Converted defined benefit plan to hybrid cash balance plan.
  • Assisted client in determining the most cost-efficient method for structuring fringe benefit program for expatriates.
  • Assisted client in determining the eligibility of expatriates to participate in tax-qualified deferred compensation programs.
  • Analyzed for legal compliance employment agreements, severance agreements, and top hat plans for executives, officers, and other key employees.
  • Analyzed mandatory arbitration clauses for Texas non-subscribers to Workers Compensation.
  • Analyzed questions relating to common control of multiple employer welfare agreement (MEWA) and the determination of when a MEWA is fully insured.
  • Revised the master trust for voluntary employees' beneficiary association (VEBA).

Selected Publications and Speeches

  • “The Practical Impact on ERISA Plan Fiduciaries of Tibble v. Edison Int’l,” Haynes and Boone, LLP Internal CLE, 2015.
  • “Classifying Full-Time Employees Under the Affordable Care Act,” American Petroleum Labor Lawyers Association Annual Meeting, October 16, 2014.
  • “Healthcare Reform: Practical Strategies,” Haynes and Boone, LLP Internal CLE, April 18, 2014.
  • “Employment Tax on Settlement Agreements in ERISA Cases,” Texas Tax Lawyer, March 2014.
  • “Protect Against Derivative ERISA Claims,” HR Magazine, January 2014.
  • “From DOMA to PPACA: What Needs to Be Done Now With Your Benefit Plans,” 17th Annual Employment Law Update, September 24, 2013.
  • “Minimizing Fiduciary Exposure for Employee Benefit Committee Members,” Haynes and Boone, LLP Internal CLE, April 2, 2013.
  • “Fiduciary Responsibility and Liability,” ASPPA Benefits Council of the Texas Gulf Coast, May 8, 2012.
  • “How to Protect Plan Fiduciaries and Satisfy Your Fiduciary Duties under ERISA,” West Houston Chamber of Commerce, April 5, 2012.
  • “ERISA Provisions in Credit Agreements,” Haynes and Boone, LLP Internal CLE, March 15, 2012.
  • “ERISA Issues in Corporate Transactions: Fiduciary Liability,” Haynes and Boone, LLP Internal CLE, January 19, 2012.
  • “ERISA Fiduciary Review 2011,” ISCEBS Houston Chapter, December 1, 2011.
  • “Tax Benefits and Allocation Issues in Rollovers to Roth IRAs,” Texas Tax Lawyer November 2011.
  • “Executive Compensation: Current ‘Say on Pay’ Legislation,” Haynes and Boone, LLP Internal CLE, October 13, 2009.

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