Inside Counsel Salaries Brighten as Skillsets Widen

by | Dec 1, 2015

Inside Counsel Salaries Brighten as Skillsets Widen

A handful of recent surveys indicate that in-house compensation is rising even as businesses expect more from corporate lawyers – both in terms of workload and skillsets.

“An in-house attorney with 10 or more years’ experience working at a large company (with $250 million in revenue or more) can expect to take in 3.4 percent more in 2016 than in 2015 with a 2016 salary ranging from $185,250 to $259,750,” according to Rebekah Mintzer, reporting for Corporate Counsel.

The data stems from the 2016 Legal Salary Guide published by Robert Half Legal and the “numbers track with a trend for legal departments that’s been going on since the financial crisis: bringing more work in-house.”  The full report is freely available without registration.

GC Compensation Rises

GCs earn on average $311,750 per year in 2014, up from $268,000 in 2012, according to reporting by Law360 based on the Major Lindsey & Africa 2015 In-House Counsel Compensation Report.

“Median base salaries for all in-house lawyers tend to cross the $200,000 threshold at approximately 15 years of experience and remain tightly clustered for the remainder of the lawyers’ careers,” according to the study.

The full report requires registration, but also breaks down compensation in both salary in bonus in a variety of ways, by industry, practice area and law school year for example.

“The highest-paying industry for GCs is entertainment, media, lodging and restaurants, where they earn $550,500 in total compensation,” according to Law360.  “Other industries that wield a big paycheck are health care; pharmaceutical; extractive, mining and chemicals; technology; consumer products; business services; and manufacturing.”

“There’s only one general counsel for company.  Companies are more flexible with general counsel,” according to Miriam Frank of the In-House Practice Group at Major Lindsey & Africa – as reported by Inside Counsel.

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New Skills Needed Inside

Corporate legal departments are eyeing “softer skills” according to Bloomberg Big Law BusinessSurveys Find Mixed Demand, Moderate Pay for Corporate Counsel .

The article cites top ACC executive, Veta T. Richardson and data from the 2015 CLO Survey released earlier this year.

Bloomberg editor Laime Vaitkus writes that corporate legal seeks to “develop non-legal skills such as executive presence, business management, as well as communications and project management skills.”

“In fact, more than half of CLOs reported seeking to develop greater executive presence and business management skills within their law departments, cultivating a group of in-house counsel with business savvy and increased involvement in strategic discussions,” he wrote attributing the analysis to Ms. Richardson.

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Photo credit: Flickr, Alan O’Rourke, Carrot And Stick Incentives Lead Manage (CC BY 2.0)

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