General Counsel Salary

Salaries for General Counsels in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($156K) per year. With some bonuses approaching $77K and certain profit sharing proceeds approaching $31K, overall incomes of General Counsels spread between $87K and $304K depending on individual performance. Residence and experience level each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A large number enjoy medical while a fair number get dental coverage. Vision coverage is also available to the greater part. More than half of General Counsels (63 percent) survey respondents are men. The majority of General Counsels claim high levels of job satisfaction. This snapshot results from replies to PayScale's salary survey.
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$85,351 - $250,597
$85K
$160K
$250K
MEDIAN: $155,677
10%
50%
90%

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$12.67 - $197.27
$13
$73
$200
MEDIAN: $73.28
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$110K$220K$330K
Salary
$85,351 - $250,597  
   
Bonus
$1,962 - $77,062  
Profit Sharing
$0.00 - $30,913  
Commission
$14,250  
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).
)
$87,434 - $303,656  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 1,256
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$70$140$210
Hourly Rate
$12.67 - $197.27  
   
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$140K$280K$420K
Bonus
$1,962 - $77,062  
   
Commission
$14,250  
Profit Sharing
$0.00 - $30,913  
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).
)
$87,434 - $303,656  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 11

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United States (change)

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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

  • 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.
  • Draft, review and negotiate contracts.
  • Assist with possible mergers, acquisitions and formation of business entities.

Common Career Paths for General Counsel


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Many General Counsels transition into upper-level roles like General Counsel & Secretary. However, General Counsel & Secretarys do report a slightly lower median income of $149K per year. General Counsels most often move into Legal Executive or Corporate Attorney roles. However, the former pays $66K less on average, and the latter pays $55K less.

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 32 percent, 18 percent, and 11 percent, respectively. Those listing Legal Research as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Legal Document Review and Contract Management also typically command lower compensation. Most people familiar with 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 with a lot of experience tend to enjoy higher earnings. Whereas the median salary for inexperienced employees is approximately $99K, incomes in the five-to-10 year group are significantly higher, averaging to the comfortable six-figure sum of $139K. General Counsels see a median salary of $190K after reaching one to two decades on the job. General Counsels who surpass 20 years on the job report pay that isn't as high as one would expect; the median compensation for this crowd sits around $208K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $167,949

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

Surpassing the national average by 41 percent, General Counsels in San Francisco receive some of the highest pay in the country. General Counsels will also find cushy salaries in Irvine (+32 percent), New York (+26 percent), Atlanta (+19 percent), and Washington (+17 percent). General Counsels in Austin report much lower salaries than the rest of the country — 34 percent below the national average — proving that residence is a major factor in overall pay. Not at the bottom but still paying below the median are employers in Denver and Detroit (20 percent lower and 17 percent lower, respectively).

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for General Counsel

Gender

Female
37 %
Male
63 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 167 votes.
Less than 1 year
1%
1-4 years
12%
5-9 years
19%
10-19 years
37%
20 years or more
31%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects General Counsel Salaries

▲24%

▲13%

National Average
$168,000

▼17%

▼41%

Skills That Affect General Counsel Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions
▲32%

Corporate
▲18%



Real Estate
▲7%




Human Resources
▼0%

National Average
$168,000

Risk Management / Risk Control
▼2%






Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 167 votes.

Gender

Female
37 %
Male
63 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1%
1-4 years
12%
5-9 years
19%
10-19 years
37%
20 years or more
31%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 89%
dental benefits
Dental: 75%
vision benefits
Vision: 65%
dental benefits
None: 10%
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