General Counsel Salary
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.Read More...
General counselors may handle a variety of different legal matters including copyright management and infringement, claims against the company or providing advice on the legal recourse or ramifications from a particular course of action. A large amount of the time, a general counsel attorney will be spending their time with the board of directors or executives of a company because it is to these individuals with whom the general counsel directly works.
Since general counselors carry a great deal of legal burden, there are a large number of requirements to become a general counsel. First and foremost, a degree from a nationally certified law school is absolutely necessary. In addition, most companies ask/require that their general counsel have previous experience representing clients for a number of years based on the size and prestige of the organization. As with many legal positions, most general counselors work Monday through Friday, but they can have very long hours outside of the usual 9-5 time slot depending on their job requirements.
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
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
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).
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Key Stats for General Counsel
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