Legal Counsels receive generous compensation in the United States — earning an average of $104K per year, their standard salaries shoot well into the six-figure range. Total incomes of Legal Counsels incorporate potential for, in a few cases, more than $30K from bonuses and close to $36K from profit sharing; these performance components cause packages to range between $64K and $189K. Residence and experience level each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Male Legal Counsels are just a bit more common among those who completed the questionnaire than females ones, with male workers composing 50 percent of the field. Women make up a slight majority of Legal Counsels (50 percent) survey respondents. For the most part, Legal Counsels enjoy their work and report high levels of job satisfaction. Almost all enjoy medical while a large number get dental coverage. Vision coverage is also available to a majority. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.

$63,327 - $171,464
(Median)
$63K
$100K
$170K
MEDIAN: $103,566
10%
50%
90%

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$21.33 - $128.80
(Median)
$21
$39
$130
MEDIAN: $39.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$70K$140K$210K
Salary
$63,327 - $171,464  
   
Bonus
$2,068 - $29,885  
Profit Sharing
$865 - $36,065  
Commission
$27,500  
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).
)
$63,839 - $189,316  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 668
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$50$100$150
Hourly Rate
$21.33 - $128.80  
   
Overtime
$51.20  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$100K$200K$300K
Bonus
$2,068 - $29,885  
   
Commission
$27,500  
Profit Sharing
$865 - $36,065  
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).
)
$63,839 - $189,316  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 15
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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 $169K per year. Given that the median pay is $81K, it may be surprising to find that an Attorney is the most common role for Legal Counsels to subsequently assume on their way up the ladder. Transitioning into a Corporate Counsel role — which pays $118K — is also typical for Legal Counsels, though less common by comparison.

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel


Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in Corporate Governance, Intellectual Property, Contract Management, and Regulatory Compliance are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 12 percent and 14 percent. Those listing Legislative Policy as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Policy Analysis and Real Estate also typically command lower compensation. Most people familiar with Legal Compliance 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.


Survey participants with less than five years' experience pocket $90K on average, but those with five to 10 years of experience enjoy a much bigger median of $124K. On average, Legal Counsels make $148K following one to two decades on the job. Legal Counsels who have racked up more than two decades of experience report lower incomes overall; the average sum for this crowd comes out to only $146K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $109,335

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

For those looking to make money, Legal Counsels in Palo Alto enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 44 percent above the national average. Legal Counsels will also find cushy salaries in Hartford (+23 percent), Houston (+19 percent), Atlanta (+18 percent), and Boston (+16 percent). Legal Counsels in Austin take home the lowest salaries, earning a whopping 23 percent less than the national average. Employers in Seattle and Washington also lean toward paying below-median salaries (10 percent lower and 7 percent lower, respectively).

Related Job Salaries

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Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries




National Average
$109,000


Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries







Complex Litigation Case Management
up arrow 2%

National Average
$109,000

contract drafting
up arrow 5%




Real Estate
up arrow 20%

Policy Analysis
up arrow 26%

Legislative Policy
up arrow 45%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 79 votes.

Gender

Female
50 %
Male
50 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
2%
1-4 years
39%
5-9 years
33%
10-19 years
18%
20 years or more
7%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 91%
dental benefits
Dental: 80%
medical benefits
Vision: 68%
dental benefits
None: 8%
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