General Counsel Salary

General Counsels receive generous compensation in the United States — earning an average of $150K per year, their standard salaries shoot well into the six-figure range. Total cash compensation to General Counsels approaches anywhere from $80K on the lower end to $284K on the higher end; in exceptional cases, this can include more than $68K from bonuses and upwards of $37K from profit sharing. Career duration is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography. Most report receiving medical coverage from their employers and a strong majority collect dental insurance. More than half of General Counsels (64 percent) survey respondents are men. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. This overview is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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$77,740 - $240,667
(Median)
$78K
$150K
$240K
MEDIAN: $150,410
10%
50%
90%

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$27.34 - $168.50
(Median)
$27
$74
$170
MEDIAN: $74.00
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$100K$200K$300K
Salary
$77,740 - $240,667  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $68,344  
Profit Sharing
$0.00 - $37,480  
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).
)
$79,736 - $284,230  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 1,775
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$60$120$180
Hourly Rate
$27.34 - $168.50  
   
Overtime
$100.00  
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$120K$240K$360K
Bonus
$0.00 - $68,344  
   
Profit Sharing
$0.00 - $37,480  
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).
)
$79,736 - $284,230  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 14
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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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As General Counsels make advancements in their career path to positions such as VP, General Counsel & Secretary, their salaries may climb. Vice President, General Counsel & Secretarys make $178K annually on average. A lot of General Counsels advance their careers by becoming General Counsel & Secretarys and Corporate Attorneys. However, those positions offer $17K less and $47K less per year on average.

General Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for General Counsel


Survey results imply that General Counsels deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. 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 38 percent, 24 percent, and 22 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. For most people, competency in Contract Negotiation indicates knowledge of 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.


Experience and income seem to be closely related; in general, the survey respondents who had worked for more years reported higher incomes. Whereas the median salary for inexperienced employees is approximately $92K, incomes in the five-to-10 year group are significantly higher, averaging to the comfortable six-figure sum of $125K. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $181K in this role. Individuals who have achieved more than 20 years of experience don't seem to earn much more than people who have 10 to 20 years under their belts; the more senior group reports an average income of $206K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $160,607

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

Surpassing the national average by 31 percent, General Counsels in San Francisco receive some of the highest pay in the country. General Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like New York (+31 percent), Houston (+25 percent), Washington (+14 percent), and Chicago (+10 percent). Location significantly influences compensation, with Austin General Counsels earning much less — 25 percent less — than the national average. Employers pay around 13 percent less in Atlanta and 8 percent less in Salt Lake City, below-median salaries for those in this field.

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Experience Affects General Counsel Salaries



National Average
$161,000



Skills That Affect General Counsel Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions
up arrow 38%

Corporate
up arrow 24%





Regulatory Compliance
up arrow 3%

Litigation Case Management
up arrow 2%

Legal Compliance
up arrow 1%

Real Estate
0%

National Average
$161,000

Corporate Governance
up arrow 1%

Contract Management
up arrow 4%

Legal Document Review
up arrow 8%


Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 252 votes.

Gender

Female
36 %
Male
64 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1%
1-4 years
11%
5-9 years
21%
10-19 years
38%
20 years or more
30%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 89%
dental benefits
Dental: 75%
medical benefits
Vision: 60%
dental benefits
None: 10%
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