General Counsel Salary (United States)

Six-figure salaries are the norm for General Counsels in the United States, with pay typically hovering around $153,273 per year. Experience level and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. The greater part report receiving medical coverage from their employers and most collect dental insurance. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. The numbers for this synopsis were furnished by individuals who completed PayScale's salary questionnaire.
General Counsel Salary (?
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.
)
$75,281 - $228,991
(Median)
75K
100K
150K
190K
230K
MEDIAN: $145,893
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
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General Counsel Salary (?
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.
)
$24.02 - $103.04
(Median)
24
49
94
100
MEDIAN: $48.00
10%
50%
75%
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
$75,281 - $228,991  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $66,729  
Profit Sharing
$2,576 - $48,177  
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).
)
$76,637 - $273,417  
PayScale
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 1,375
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
$24.02 - $103.04  
   
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 - $66,729  
   
Profit Sharing
$2,576 - $48,177  
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).
)
$76,637 - $273,417  
PayScale
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 15
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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 some General Counsels move into positions like Senior Vice President & General Counsel (where salaries climb a respectable $53K), this progression is not the norm. With an annual $19,052 increase in salary, a Vice President (VP) & General Counsel is the most common role for General Counsels to subsequently assume on their way up the ladder. Transitioning into a Legal General Counsel role—which actually slashes pay by $53K—is also typical for General Counsels, though less common by comparison.

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 28 percent, 21 percent, and 15 percent, respectively. Those listing Legal Research as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. It is often found that people who know Contract Negotiation are 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 salaries for more plentiful past experience. Compensation exceeds six figures—$127K—after five to 10 years, a solid increase from typical starting salaries of $85K. Those with one to two decades of experience under their belt tend to see salaries around $177K. Salary increase slows as General Counsels pass 20 years in their field, with average salaries hovering around $198K. The range of experience in this workforce varies greatly: 33 percent of respondents have between one and nine years of experience; 37 percent have between 10 and 20 years, and 28 percent boast more than two decades of experience.

Pay Difference By Location

up arrow 36%
up arrow 29%
Washington
up arrow 17%
up arrow 14%
Philadelphia
up arrow 10%
up arrow 9%
Tampa
up arrow 8%
Seattle
up arrow 5%
up arrow 1%
National Average
$153,000
Denver
up arrow 3%
Atlanta
up arrow 12%
up arrow 12%
Larger circles over a city indicate a job is popular in that location.
For General Counsels, working in the bustling city of New York has its advantages, including an above-average pay rate. Other urban areas shelling out big bucks include Boston, San Francisco, Washington, and Houston, where General Counsels typically earn around 29 percent, 24 percent, 17 percent, and 14 percent more than usual. Miami is the lowest-paying area, 12 percent south of the national average. Employers also pay below the national average in Atlanta (-12 percent) and Salt Lake City (-9 percent).

Related Job Salaries

Experience Affects General Counsel Salaries

National Average
$153,000

Skills That Affect General Counsel Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions
up arrow 28%
Corporate
up arrow 21%
Human Resources
up arrow 12%
Litigation Case Management
up arrow 4%
Contract Negotiation
up arrow 3%
Legal Compliance
0%
National Average
$153,000
Contract Management
up arrow 2%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied Image
Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5 based on 311 votes.

Gender

Female
35%
female alumni
 
Male
65%
male alumni

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1%
1-4 years
12%
5-9 years
21%
10-19 years
37%
20 years or more
28%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 88% dental benefits Dental: 74%
vision benefits Vision: 58% employee benefits None: 10%
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