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General Counsel Salary (United States)

Six-figure salaries are the norm for General Counsels in the United States, with pay typically hovering around $153K per year. Total cash compensation for General Counsels runs from $77K to $273K depending on bonuses that can occasionally exceed $67K and profit sharing that can reach almost $48K. Experience level and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. The greater part enjoy medical while a fair portion get dental coverage. Vision coverage is also available to more than half. The majority of General Counsels (65 percent) are men. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most General Counsels. 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  
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  
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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General Counsels who advance into the role of a Senior Vice President & General Counsel are fairly uncommon. Senior Vice President & General Counsels $206K per year. A VP or General Counsel role is the most common promotion for General Counsels moving up the ladder, and pay for the position tends to be around the $172K mark. Another typical, albeit less common, transition for General Counsels is a Legal Executive position, where earnings are usually $100K.

General Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for General Counsel

Survey takers working as General Counsels report using a large range of professional skills. 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. Legal Research, on the other hand, is typically associated with much 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.
In general, experience and pay appear to be strongly linked; those with more experience usually bring in higher incomes. Although individuals who have less than five years' experience earn $85K on average, people with five to 10 years benefit from a notably larger average of $127K. On average, General Counsels make $176K following one to two decades on the job. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make only slightly more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage; the more senior group reports median earnings of 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, New York provides a pay rate that is 36 percent greater than the national average. Those in search of high salaries should also consider checking out cities like Boston, San Francisco, Washington, and Houston, top-paying markets where General Counsels rake in more than the national norm (+29 percent, +24 percent, +17 percent, and +14 percent). Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Miami, 12 percent below the national average. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Atlanta (12 percent lower) and Salt Lake City (9 percent lower).

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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%