Joseph M. Yaffe

Joseph M. Yaffe

Partner, Executive Compensation and Benefits
Joseph M. Yaffe is head of Skadden’s Palo Alto office. He counsels senior executives, high-net-worth individuals, public and private companies, boards of directors, private equity firms and family offices on their most complex matters. His broad practice includes advising on corporate governance, tax, securities and employment issues arising in a wide variety of compensatory arrangements.


Mr. Yaffe regularly handles the executive compensation aspects of some of the world’s largest M&A transactions, spin-offs and other business combinations in a range of industries, including technology, media and entertainment, retail, medical technology and biotechnology.

Mr. Yaffe often represents companies’ senior employees and has advised numerous high-profile business leaders in Silicon Valley and nationwide.

He also 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.

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

The Daily Journal has recognized him with multiple awards over the past few years, including naming him several times as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California and one of the state’s Top Labor and Employment Attorneys. In recognition of his work, he was named a 2022 Employment Law Trailblazer by The National Law Journal and Best Lawyers’ 2024 and 2022 San Jose Area Corporate Governance Law Lawyer of the Year. On the strength of client feedback, Mr. Yaffe repeatedly has been named a Lawdragon 500 Leading Corporate Employment Lawyer and a 2019 BTI Client Service All-Star by BTI Consulting Group. In addition, MergerLinks noted him as one of its Dealmakers in 2023.

He has been named an Executive Compensation MVP by Law360, which also has repeatedly named Skadden among its Executive Compensation and Benefits Groups of the Year. 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 Livongo Health in its acquisition by Teladoc Health (2021); Intel Corporation in its acquisition of Mobileye N.V. (2018) and Broadcom Corporation in its acquisition by Avago Technologies (2016).

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 member of The Legal 500’s “Hall of Fame” in its Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retire­ment Plans: Transactional category, as well as in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Corporate Governance Law and Employee Law – Management.

Mr. Yaffe is a member of Skadden’s Policy and Investment Partnership committees, and also serves as chair of the firm’s Financial Oversight & Audit Committee. He speaks and writes frequently on tax, benefits and compensation matters, including on corporate governance and executive compensation issues and trends. 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

Partner, Executive Compensation and Benefits