General Counsel Salary

Wages for General Counsels in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($148K) per year. Overall cash earnings for General Counsels stretch from $79K on the lower end to $282K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $68K from bonuses and $49K from profit sharing. Career duration is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography. Most General Counsels like their work and job satisfaction is high. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and a strong majority earn dental coverage. The majority of General Counsels (65 percent) survey respondents are male. The information for this snapshot was generated by responses to the PayScale salary survey.
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$77,060 - $235,644
(Median)
$77K
$150K
$240K
MEDIAN: $148,146
10%
50%
90%

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$24.24 - $102.13
(Median)
$24
$58
$100
MEDIAN: $57.00
10%
50%
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
$77,060 - $235,644  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $67,994  
Profit Sharing
$979 - $48,936  
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).
)
$78,534 - $281,838  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,511
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
$24.24 - $102.13  
   
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 - $67,994  
   
Profit Sharing
$979 - $48,936  
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).
)
$78,534 - $281,838  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 16

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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 sometimes assume positions such as Senior Vice President & General Counsels. That role pays $206K per year on average. General Counsels most often move into positions as Corporate Attorneys or Legal Executives. Corporate Attorneys actually earn $42K less on average, however, and Legal Executives earn $56K less per year than General Counsels do.

General Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for General Counsel


General Counsels report using a large range of skills on the job. 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 45 percent, 21 percent, and 20 percent, respectively. Those listing Legal Research as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Most people experienced in Contract Negotiation also know 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 compensation for more plentiful past experience. Although employees with less than five years' experience earn around $88K on average, the five-to-10 year group has a much higher, six-figure median of $124K. General Counsels claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $179K. Respondents who claim more than 20 years of experience may encounter pay that doesn't quite reflect their extensive experience; these veterans report a median income of around $203K.

Pay Difference by Location


New York offers some of the highest pay in the country for General Counsels, 33 percent above the national average. General Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Francisco (+29 percent), Washington (+14 percent), Houston (+14 percent), and Seattle (+12 percent). With compensation 14 percent below the national average, Atlanta is not known for hefty paychecks and actually represents the lowest-paying market. Employers in Salt Lake City and Denver also lean toward paying below-median salaries (11 percent lower and 1 percent lower, respectively).

Related Job Salaries

United States (change)

Experience Affects General Counsel Salaries



National Average
$156,000



Skills That Affect General Counsel Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions
up arrow 45%

Corporate
up arrow 21%






Litigation Case Management
up arrow 4%

Legal Compliance
up arrow 1%

Contract Management
0%

National Average
$156,000

Real Estate
up arrow 1%


Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 256 votes.

Gender

Female
35 %
Male
65 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1%
1-4 years
11%
5-9 years
21%
10-19 years
36%
20 years or more
30%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 88% dental benefits Dental: 74%
vision benefits Vision: 59% employee benefits None: 11%