As head of Skadden’s West Coast Executive Compensation and Benefits Group, Joseph M. Yaffe counsels public and private companies, private equity firms, senior executives and boards of directors on their most complex matters.


Mr. Yaffe's broad practice includes advising on the tax and securities issues arising in equity compensation arrangements and handling the employee benefits issues in corporate transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs and other business combinations.

He regularly handles the executive compensation aspects of some of the world’s largest M&A transactions, with a strong focus on the technology sector. He works with companies in a broad range of other industries, including entertainment, retail, medical technology and biotechnology.

Mr. Yaffe advises on tax-qualified plan issues, including issues relating to 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and represents clients in negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor regarding compliance issues under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA.

He has an active practice representing senior executives and has advised numerous high-profile business leaders in Silicon Valley and nationwide.

Mr. Yaffe is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading compensation and benefits attorneys.

In 2019, the Daily Journal named him one of the Top Labor and Employment Attorneys in California. The publication also has named him several times among the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in the state. On the strength of client feedback, Mr. Yaffe was named a 2019 BTI Client Service All-Star by BTI Consulting Group and was selected as a 2018 Executive Compensation MVP by Law360, which also named Skadden one of its Executive Compensation and Benefits Groups of the Year for 2018 and 2019. He was a key member of the deal teams recognized by the Daily Journal with California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year awards for innovative work on behalf of Broadcom Corporation in its acquisition by Avago Technologies (2016) and Intel Corporation in its acquisition of Mobileye N.V. (2018).

Mr. Yaffe is annually ranked in Chambers USA’s prestigious Band 1, where client commentators said in a recent edition, “there’s nobody better in the business” and “his strengths are his professionalism, his unbiased perspective, his knowledge of California employment law and his communication skills with his clients.” Mr. Yaffe also is annually recognized as a top executive compensation attorney in The Legal 500 and has been named in Best Lawyers in America.

He speaks frequently on tax, benefits and compensation matters, including equity compensation issues for emerging growth companies and tax-qualified plan issues. He also is the author of the chapter on “Stock Options” in the book Start-Up & Emerging Companies: Planning, Financing, and Operating the Successful Business. In addition, Mr. Yaffe is a key contributor to Skadden client alerts and other publications, including the firm’s annual Compensation Committee Handbook.



  • J.D., University of California, Davis School of Law, 1994, Law Review
  • A.B., Columbia University, 1990


  • California


  • San Francisco, American and Federal Bar Associations
  • The National Association of Stock Plan Professionals

Joseph M. Yaffe