General Counsel Salary

General Counsels enjoy a hefty income, with average pay passing six figures ($150K) annually in the United States. Overall cash earnings for General Counsels stretch from $79K on the lower end to $284K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $71K from bonuses and $38K from profit sharing. Experience level is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and a strong majority earn dental coverage. Job satisfaction for General Counsels is high. Most people who answered the questionnaire are men; 64 percent of General Counsels are male. The data for this synopsis comes from respondents who took the PayScale salary survey.
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$77,373 - $236,669
(Median)
$77K
$150K
$240K
MEDIAN: $149,503
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
$77,373 - $236,669  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $70,908  
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).
)
$78,645 - $283,712  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,561
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 - $70,908  
   
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).
)
$78,645 - $283,712  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 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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It is somewhat unusual to come across General Counsels who move on to become Vice President, General Counsel & Secretarys, but it does happen from time to time, and the median salary for that position sits slightly higher at $179K. Many General Counsels advance into roles as Corporate Attorneys or Legal Executives, but the median salaries are $44K lower and $58K lower, respectively.

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Popular Skills for General Counsel


Survey results imply that General Counsels deploy a deep pool of skills on the job. Lucky workers who know Mergers and Acquisitions can expect a significant pay bump, scoring salaries 41 percent above average. Intellectual Property (IP) and Corporate are also correlated to pay that is above average, with increases between 17 percent and 41 percent. Those listing Legal Research as a skill should be prepared for drastically 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 compensation for more plentiful past experience. Although employees with less than five years' experience earn around $89K on average, the five-to-10 year group has a much higher, six-figure median of $125K. On average, General Counsels make $182K following one to two decades on the job. General Counsels who have stuck around for more than two decades see earnings that are only slightly higher than those of folks who have worked for 10 to 20 years; the more senior group makes around $205K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


New York offers some of the highest pay in the country for General Counsels, 31 percent above the national average. General Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Francisco (+28 percent), Washington (+24 percent), Houston (+16 percent), and Tampa (+12 percent). The smallest paychecks in the market, 14 percent south of the national average, can be found in Atlanta. Employers in Salt Lake City and Austin also lean toward paying below-median salaries (11 percent lower and 5 percent lower, respectively).

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Experience Affects General Counsel Salaries



National Average
$158,000



Skills That Affect General Counsel Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions
up arrow 41%


Corporate
up arrow 17%





Litigation Case Management
up arrow 3%

Legal Compliance
up arrow 1%

Contract Management
0%

National Average
$158,000

Real Estate
up arrow 1%


Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 236 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
37%
20 years or more
30%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 89% dental benefits Dental: 75%
vision benefits Vision: 59% employee benefits None: 10%
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