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Joel C. Farrar

313 South Washington Square
Lansing, MI 48933-2114
T 517.371.8305
F 517.371.8200


Joel Farrar is a business and tax lawyer, with specialties in executive compensation planning, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and securities.  He is a shareholder with Foster Swift and works primarily out of the Lansing office.  He is the co-leader of the firm’s Business and Tax Practice Group and he is also the leader of Foster Swift's State and Local Tax (SALT) Group, which focuses on Michigan property and non-property tax planning, administrative appeals and litigation.

Joel particularly enjoys helping new entrepreneurs with forming and growing start-up businesses.  He assists start-ups with raising capital through private placements of securities; attracting talent using stock options, restricted stock and other incentive plans; developing and documenting relationships with vendors, customers and partners; and addressing the many other challenges before them.

Joel also works with established businesses of all sizes on the issues they face every day and with major events.  He regularly assists businesses with corporate governance, contract preparation and negotiation, dispute resolution, regulatory compliance as well as tax and succession planning.  He has also helped numerous clients buy businesses or sell their own through taxable and nontaxable stock, asset and merger transactions.  Joel is skilled at preparing businesses and their management teams for major transactions, negotiating letters of intent, preparing and performing comprehensive due diligence, drafting and negotiating purchase and other transaction documents and closing the deal.

Through his work with executive management teams, Joel has developed particular expertise in the area of executive compensation and nonqualified deferred compensation agreements.  Joel is well versed in Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code and other tax rules and regularly uses that knowledge to design compensation programs that align executives’ incentives with the company’s goals.  Joel has helped numerous clients implement and administer a variety of plans, such as stock option plans, restricted stock plans, phantom stock plans, stock appreciation rights (SAR) plans, deferred compensation and commission plans, split dollar insurance plans, retiree medical plans and customized bonus plans.  Joel also assists clients with correcting mistakes in their existing programs, which can save their executives from substantial tax penalties.

Joel received his juris doctorate from Michigan State University College of Law, summa cum laude and his Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  Joel is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Ingham County Bar Association and the American Bar Association.


Memberships & Affiliations

Legal Affiliations:
  • State Bar of Michigan
  • Ingham County Bar Association
Industry & Professional Associations:
  • Entrepreneur Institute of Mid-Michigan, Board of Directors
    • Volunteer of the Year, 2015
Community Involvement:
  • Mid-Michigan Travel Coalition (2018-present)
  • The Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Board of Directors (2010-2012)


Representative Matters

  • Business Planning and Operation: Business entity selection and formation, closely-held and family businesses, corporate governance, executive compensation, employment law, regulatory compliance, E-commerce, commercial transactions, information technology, international business transactions, joint ventures, business succession planning, dissolution and winding up.
  • Securities, Corporate Governance, Private and Public Finance: Private equity and venture capital transactions, securities reporting and compliance, investment adviser and broker-dealer regulation, tax credit financing, government and nonprofit governmental purpose and private activity bond financing, public-private partnerships.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: Private and public mergers, stock transactions, asset purchases, joint ventures, tender offers, proxy contests and divisional transactions, employee benefits in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.
  • Employee Benefits: Executive compensation planning and agreements, for-profit and non-profit executive deferred compensation arrangements and plan funding, qualified benefit plan and trust design and administration, welfare benefit arrangements, fiduciary and regulatory compliance and reporting, IRS and DOL audits and appeals, plan mergers, spin-offs and transfers, plan termination.
  • Tax and Estate Planning: Domestic and international corporate tax, partnership/LLC tax, tax exempt and charitable organizations, state and local tax, tax credit financing and transactions, tax examinations and litigation, estate and gift tax and planning, lifetime gifting, wills, trusts and family LLCs.



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