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Legal Counsel Salary (United States)

Compensation for Legal Counsels in the United States is generous, with average pay surpassing six figures annually ($100K). Total cash compensation to Legal Counsels bottoms out near $60K and approaches $180K on the high end; the biggest paychecks include approximately $35K from bonuses and almost $29K from profit sharing. Residence is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by tenure. Women Legal Counsels who took the survey just slightly outnumber men. Job satisfaction for Legal Counsels is high. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and a strong majority earn dental coverage. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.
Legal 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.
)
$58,876 - $158,688
(Median)
59K
74K
97K
130K
160K
MEDIAN: $96,937
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
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Legal 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.
)
$24.53 - $101.74
(Median)
25
62
100
MEDIAN: $32.00
10%
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$70K$140K$210K
Salary
$58,876 - $158,688  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $35,159  
Profit Sharing
$202.73 - $29,233  
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).
)
$60,014 - $180,238  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 689
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
$24.53 - $101.74  
   
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 - $35,159  
   
Profit Sharing
$202.73 - $29,233  
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).
)
$60,014 - $180,238  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 29
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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.
Read More...
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 upper level Senior Counsel positions, where pay tends to be much higher. On average, Senior Counsels earn $173K per year. A Corporate Counsel role is the most common promotion for Legal Counsels moving up the ladder, and pay for the position tends to be around the $117K mark. Another typical, albeit less common, transition for Legal Counsels is an Attorney position, where earnings are usually $80K.

Corporate Counsel Job Listings

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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, Regulatory Compliance, and Litigation Case Management are correlated to pay that is above average. Those listing Contract Management as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Legal Document Review and Legal Research also typically command lower compensation. It is often found that people who know Contract Negotiation are also skilled in Legal Research and Regulatory Compliance. People who know Legal Compliance usually also know Regulatory Compliance and Legal Research.

Pay by Experience Level for Legal Counsel

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
The average worker who claims fewer than five years of experience earns around $78K. In contrast, however, individuals who report five to 10 years in this occupation see a much larger median of $121K. On average, Legal Counsels make $147K following one to two decades on the job. Survey participants with more than two decades under their belts actually report earning less than people with less experience; the former take home only $127K on average.

Pay Difference By Location

Houston
up arrow 24%
Atlanta
up arrow 23%
Boston
up arrow 19%
Philadelphia
up arrow 17%
Raleigh
up arrow 17%
up arrow 16%
Washington
up arrow 12%
St. Louis
up arrow 2%
National Average
$100,000
Seattle
up arrow 4%
Dallas
up arrow 4%
Chicago
up arrow 10%
Austin
up arrow 15%
Columbus
up arrow 30%
Larger circles over a city indicate a job is popular in that location.
For Legal Counsels, busy Los Angeles offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 47 percent above the national average. Legal Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Houston (+24 percent), Atlanta (+23 percent), Boston (+19 percent), and Philadelphia (+17 percent). Compared to the national average, Columbus Legal Counsels have considerably lower salaries, 30 percent below the national average to be exact. Location appears to be a major driving force in pay for those in this profession. Not at the bottom but still paying below the median are employers in Austin and Chicago (15 percent lower and 10 percent lower, respectively).

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Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries

National Average
$100,000

Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries

Intellectual Property (IP)
0%
National Average
$100,000
Regulatory Compliance
up arrow 3%
Real Estate
up arrow 13%
Legal Document Review
up arrow 18%
Contract Management
up arrow 33%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied Image
Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5 based on 136 votes.

Gender

Female
55%
female alumni
 
Male
45%
male alumni

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
39%
5-9 years
31%
10-19 years
23%
20 years or more
5%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 88% dental benefits Dental: 75%
vision benefits Vision: 59% employee benefits None: 11%