General Counsel Salary (United States)

General Counsels in the United States can expect to earn a very comfortable salary, with average salaries (in the ballpark of $153,273) surpassing six figures annually. Total cash compensation varies from around $75,281 to approximately $228,991; higher pay grades include potential for bonuses and profit sharing as high as $67K and $48K, respectively. Career length is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by the particular city. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. This overview is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
General Counsel Salary (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$75,281 - $228,991
(Median)
75K
100K
150K
190K
230K
MEDIAN: $145,893
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
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General Counsel Salary (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$24.02 - $103.04
(Median)
24
49
94
100
MEDIAN: $48.00
10%
50%
75%
90%
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National Salary Data

 (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$100K$200K$300K
Salary
$75,281 - $228,991  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $66,729  
Profit Sharing
$2,576 - $48,177  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$76,637 - $273,417  
PayScale
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 1,375
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50$100$150
Hourly Rate
$24.02 - $103.04  
   
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$100K$200K$300K
Bonus
$0.00 - $66,729  
   
Profit Sharing
$2,576 - $48,177  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$76,637 - $273,417  
PayScale
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 15
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Job Description for General Counsel

General counselors work in the business world as the main legal advisers for their respective companies. If a company specializes in a particular type of industry, such as manufacturing, their general counsel will likely be a specialist or have prior experience in the types of law that may be especially applicable to that company. For instance, an insurance company may want to hire a general counsel who is already experienced with insurance fraud law.
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General Counsel Tasks
  • Draft, review and negotiate contracts.
  • Assist with possible mergers, acquisitions and formation of business entities.
  • Provide legal advice on legal and regulatory issues and federal and state laws and regulations.
  • Represent client or corporation in negotiations with accounts and regulators.

Common Career Paths for General Counsel

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General Counsels who assume a position such as a Senior Vice President & General Counsel—while uncommon—may get paid an extra $53K per year. The most common career progression for General Counsels leads to becoming a Vice President (VP) & General Counsel, resulting in an extra $19,052 annually. However, many General Counsels also opt to become a Legal General Counsel, a move that typically leads to a pay cut of $53K.

General Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for General Counsel

General Counsels seem to require a rather large skill set. Most notably, facility with Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate, and Intellectual Property (IP) are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 28 percent, 21 percent, and 15 percent, respectively. Legal Research, on the other hand, is typically associated with much lower pay. Those proficient in Contract Negotiation are, more often than not, also skilled in Contract Management and Litigation Case Management.

Pay by Experience Level for General Counsel

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
General Counsels generally obtain higher salaries for more plentiful past experience. Though salaries start at around $85K, after five to 10 years, pay will turn to $127K, easily eclipsing six figures. Compensation is $177K after 10 to 20 years. General Counsels who stay in the field for several decades see their salaries grow less quickly after 20 years, with incomes eventually hovering around $198K. Age distribution in this workforce is quite spread out, with those with between one and nine years of experience accounting for 33 percent of the workforce, those with 10-20 making up 37 percent and those with more than two decades of experience rounding out the remaining 28 percent.

Pay Difference By Location

up arrow 36%
up arrow 29%
Washington
up arrow 17%
up arrow 14%
Philadelphia
up arrow 10%
up arrow 9%
Tampa
up arrow 8%
Seattle
up arrow 5%
up arrow 1%
National Average
$153,000
Denver
up arrow 3%
Atlanta
up arrow 12%
up arrow 12%
Larger circles over a city indicate a job is popular in that location.
With a pay rate for General Counsels that is 36 percent greater than the national average, New York offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. General Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Boston (+29 percent), San Francisco (+24 percent), Washington (+17 percent), and Houston (+14 percent). Falling short of the national average by 12 percent, the area with the worst salaries is Miami. Atlanta and Salt Lake City are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median—salaries hover around -12 percent and -9 percent, respectively.

Related Job Salaries

Experience Affects General Counsel Salaries

National Average
$153,000

Skills That Affect General Counsel Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions
up arrow 28%
Corporate
up arrow 21%
Human Resources
up arrow 12%
Litigation Case Management
up arrow 4%
Contract Negotiation
up arrow 3%
Legal Compliance
0%
National Average
$153,000
Contract Management
up arrow 2%

Job Satisfaction

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Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5 based on 311 votes.

Gender

Female
35%
female alumni
 
Male
65%
male alumni

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1%
1-4 years
12%
5-9 years
21%
10-19 years
37%
20 years or more
28%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 88% dental benefits Dental: 74%
vision benefits Vision: 58% employee benefits None: 10%
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