David W. Ellis


David W. Ellis has spent more than 25 years advising multinational companies on cross-border employment, tax and mobility issues. He is a frequent author of technical articles highlighting changes in the tax law and recent cases that impact how companies manage their global workforce. David has been a featured speaker at numerous ABA, PLI and SHRM conferences addressing international HR issues, and has written a book on structuring international transfers of executives (published by RIA). He has served on many Firm committees and has been elected or appointed to a number of key leadership roles within the Firm. He recently stepped down as chair of the Firm's North America Compensation and Employment Law Practice Group, and served as chair of the Firm's Global Employment Practice Group for eight years. David currently splits his time between the Chicago and Houston offices of the Firm.

Practice Focus

David advises management on cross-border employment and tax issues. He works with clients to determine the most appropriate employment structure when expanding into a new jurisdiction. He also creates strategies and processes to improve workplace compliance, mitigate or reduce tax and employment risks, and attract and retain talent. David also practices in the area of global mobility. He drafts employment contracts, expatriate assignment letters, secondment agreements and global mobility policies. He understands the legal and tax challenges presented by a global employment company and can take a client through all of the implementation steps and processes to set up a GEC, including jurisdiction selection, employment structure, mitigation of PE and other tax issues, and payroll. He has managed large-scale projects (eg, cross-border M&A transactions, global reductions in force, GEC implementation projects and multijurisdictional surveys) and works daily with Firm colleagues in other regions. With a background in employee benefits, he also advises multinational clients on issues related to their global pension, health and welfare plans.

Representative Legal Matters

  • Advised an oilfield services company on employment, global mobility and tax issues as well as the implementation steps and processes related to the establishment of a global employment company for its expatriates and rotators.
  • Advised an NGO on the employment structure alternatives to mitigate PE risk when sending consultants to work for clients in non-US jurisdictions.
  • Led the employment team advising a company in the biotech industry on the TUPE, works council consultation and employee transfer issues related to the acquisition of a target business in the US and 30 non-US jurisdictions.
  • Led the employment and benefits team assisting an IT company with the employment, labor and employee benefits issues that arose when it decided to terminate or freeze its pension obligations in various jurisdictions in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
  • Advised a pharmaceutical company on the US and French income tax and social security withholding rules applicable to payments from its retirement and deferred compensation plans to a departing senior executive from France, who planned to relocate outside of the US post-termination.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Bar Association - Tax Section
  • American College of Employee Benefits Counsel - Fellow
  • International Pensions and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association - Past Chair


  • Texas~United States (2013)
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois~United States (1981)
  • Illinois~United States (1981)


  • Boston College Law School (1981)
  • Amherst College (1977)


  • English
  • French