Legal Counsel Salary

Wages for Legal Counsels in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($100K) per year. In the world of Legal Counsels, overall cash allowance can occasionally include more than $34K from bonuses and, in some exceptional cases, $25K from profit sharing, causing incomes to vary widely between $61K and $181K. Career duration is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography. Women make up a slight majority of Legal Counsels (53 percent) survey respondents. Work is enjoyable for Legal Counsels, who typically claim high levels of job satisfaction. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and a strong majority earn dental coverage. The figures in this overview were provided by individuals who took PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$59,675 - $160,864
(Median)
$60K
$100K
$160K
MEDIAN: $99,637
10%
50%
90%

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$19.34 - $122.34
(Median)
$19
$33
$120
MEDIAN: $33.00
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$70K$140K$210K
Salary
$59,675 - $160,864  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $33,958  
Profit Sharing
$206.08 - $24,588  
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).
)
$60,734 - $181,416  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 833
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
$19.34 - $122.34  
   
Overtime
$22.00 - $48.50  
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 - $33,958  
   
Profit Sharing
$206.08 - $24,588  
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).
)
$60,734 - $181,416  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 30
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Job Description for Legal Counsel

Legal counsels, also called general counsels, are the chief lawyers of large corporations or government agencies. They advise departments on legal ramifications, ensure that the business is working in accordance with the law, and may represent the company or government agency in the case that a law suit is filed.

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Legal Counsel Tasks

  • Manage disputes and litigations.
  • Prepare and review legal documents including contracts, licenses, leases, sales and purchases, and real estate, etc.
  • Advise business in legal affairs of the company including government regulations, taxes, and legal and human rights.
  • Apply for registration and copyrights for the products, processes, and trademarks of the organization.

Common Career Paths for Legal Counsel


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Legal Counsels often transition into Senior Counsel positions, for which compensation tends to be much higher. On average, Senior Counsels earn $171K per year. An Attorney role is the most common promotion for Legal Counsels moving up the ladder. Pay for this role tends to be $81K per year. Another typical, albeit less common, transition for Legal Counsels is a Corporate Counsel position, where earnings are usually $117K.

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel


Legal Counsels report using a wide range of professional skills. Most notably, skills in Contract Negotiation, Intellectual Property, contract drafting, and Regulatory Compliance are correlated to pay that is above average. Those listing Contract Management as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Legal Research and Real Estate also typically command lower compensation. People who know Legal Compliance usually also know Regulatory Compliance and Legal Research. Most people who know Contract Negotiation also know Legal Research and Regulatory Compliance.

Pay by Experience Level for Legal Counsel

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


Although employees with less than five years' experience earn around $81K on average, the five-to-10 year group has a much higher, six-figure median of $122K. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $148K in this role. People who have worked for 20 years or more actually report earning less than people who are in the middle of their careers; the veterans take home a mere $128K by contrast.

Pay Difference by Location


With a pay rate for Legal Counsels that is 26 percent greater than the national average, Houston offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Legal Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Los Angeles (+25 percent), Boston (+18 percent), Raleigh (+15 percent), and Washington (+15 percent). Legal Counsels in Miami report much lower salaries than the rest of the country — 30 percent below the national average — proving that residence is a major factor in overall pay. Columbus and Austin are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 28 percent lower and 18 percent lower, respectively.

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Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries




National Average
$104,000


Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries


Intellectual Property (IP)
up arrow 4%

contract drafting
up arrow 1%

National Average
$104,000

Regulatory Compliance
up arrow 1%




Real Estate
up arrow 15%


Contract Management
up arrow 30%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 134 votes.

Gender

Female
53 %
Male
47 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
41%
5-9 years
30%
10-19 years
22%
20 years or more
5%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 89% dental benefits Dental: 77%
vision benefits Vision: 62% employee benefits None: 10%
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