General Counsel Salary

Six-figure salaries are the norm for General Counsels in the United States, with median pay hovering around $149K per year. In the world of General Counsels, overall income ranges from $78K near the bottom to $283K at the top; this can include more than $70K from bonuses and more than $38K from profit sharing in exceptional cases. Career length and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A large number report receiving medical coverage from their employers and a fair number collect dental insurance. Men account for the majority of General Counsels who responded to the questionnaire — 64 percent to be exact. Work is enjoyable for General Counsels, who typically claim high levels of job satisfaction. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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$77,263 - $236,615
(Median)
$77K
$150K
$240K
MEDIAN: $149,209
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
$77,263 - $236,615  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $70,397  
Profit Sharing
$200.00 - $38,000  
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).
)
$78,474 - $283,163  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,572
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 - $70,397  
   
Profit Sharing
$200.00 - $38,000  
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).
)
$78,474 - $283,163  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 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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Though it's uncommon, some General Counsels move into roles as Vice President, General Counsel & Secretarys, where they can earn incomes averaing out to a slightly higher $179K per year. A lot of General Counsels advance their careers by becoming Corporate Attorneys and Legal Executives. However, those positions offer $43K less and $58K less per year on average.

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Popular Skills for General Counsel


Survey results imply that General Counsels deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. Lucky workers who know Mergers and Acquisitions can expect a significant pay bump, scoring salaries 42 percent above average. Corporate and Intellectual Property (IP) are also correlated to pay that is above average, with increases between 17 percent and 42 percent. Legal Research, on the other hand, is typically associated with much 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 with a rich background of experience are typically rewarded with larger paychecks. In this occupation, salaries for the relatively untested average out to $90K, but folks in the five-to-10 year range enjoy a much heftier median of $125K. General Counsels with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $182K. 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 $205K.

Pay Difference by Location


Surpassing the national average by 32 percent, General Counsels in New York receive some of the highest pay in the country. General Counsels will also find cushy salaries in San Francisco (+29 percent), Washington (+25 percent), Houston (+17 percent), and Tampa (+12 percent). In Atlanta, salaries are 13 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. Employers pay around 11 percent less in Salt Lake City and 5 percent less in Seattle, below-median salaries for those in this field.

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Experience Affects General Counsel Salaries



National Average
$157,000



Skills That Affect General Counsel Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions
up arrow 42%


Corporate
up arrow 17%





Litigation Case Management
up arrow 2%

Legal Compliance
0%

Contract Management
0%

Real Estate
0%

National Average
$157,000


Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 233 votes.

Gender

Female
36 %
Male
64 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1%
1-4 years
12%
5-9 years
21%
10-19 years
37%
20 years or more
30%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 89% dental benefits Dental: 74%
vision benefits Vision: 59% employee benefits None: 10%
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