New report shines a light on in-house lawyer pay

July 10, 2013 Corporate Counsel has reported on new data about the pay packages for in-house counsel: a survey of 1,700 in-house lawyers at around 480 US and Canadian companies.

The “In-House Counsel Compensation Report” from General Counsel Metrics LLC and legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa looked at base salaries, cash bonuses, law school graduation years, primary practice areas, company revenues, and company industries to discern five major trends:

1. Experience matters. Median base salaries for in-house lawyers cross the $180,000 mark at about 20 years experience, and peak at about 30 years out of law school.

2. The size of annual bonuses is more closely aligned with the size of the company and the industry than with years of experience.

3. The most lucrative industry for in-house lawyers is the extractive/mining/chemicals sector, followed by the food and beverage industry.

4. Salaries for in-house lawyers are comparable across all company sizes. For in-house lawyers working in companies with revenues of less than $1 billion the median total compensation, including salary and bonuses, is $170,000, while in-house lawyers working at companies with revenues of more than $5 billion have a median total compensation of $205,405.

5. General counsel are also paid salaries in a set of fairly tight ranges. GCs in companies with under $1 billion in revenue can expect a median salary of $245,000. At the $1 billion revenue mark, salaries start at a $320,000 median, and then jump to $350,000 for those working at a company with over $5 billion dollars in revenue.

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