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In-House Compensation Report offers insight into legal department pay

Key takeaways about in-house compensation gleaned from the survey

General counsel working in the extractive/chemical/mining, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and medical devices industries are the highest paid among their peers, according to a study by legal search firm Major Lindsey & Africa (MLA) and law department benchmarking company General Counsel Metrics (GC Metrics).

In late June, MLA and GC Metrics released the In-House Compensation Report, which surveyed more than 1,700 lawyers about compensation in various law department positions.

“General Counsel of U.S. and Canadian companies need good information on what their lawyers should be paid,” said Rees Morrison, President of General Counsel Metrics. “And this innovative collaboration with MLA helps to fill that need.”

According to Bob Graff, MLA’s vice president of global business development, the study surveys the largest number of employees, industries, companies and practice groups, in addition to including both general counsel and other in-house lawyers.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Not-for-profit/government, education and construction/engineering are at the lowest end of the spectrum.
  • Across all company sizes, median total cash compensation for all in-house lawyers is in a tight range.
  • Generally, GCs with more than 20 years of experience cross over the $300,000 total cash compensation hurdle. Those with more than 30 years of practice experience have the highest compensation numbers. 
  • For all in-house lawyers, those who practice securities, healthcare, and IP have the highest total cash compensation. 
  • Once revenue crosses $1 billion, companies pay base salaries to GCs that are in a fairly tight range.
  • GC bonuses do not appear to be highly correlated with years of experience. Size of company and industry are more relevant.

Read more about this survey.

See more facts and figures on InsideCounsel stories. 


Cathleen Flahardy

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