Legal Counsels in the United States can expect to earn a very comfortable salary, with average salaries (in the ballpark of $104K) surpassing six figures annually. Overall cash earnings for Legal Counsels stretch from $64K on the lower end to $188K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $30K from bonuses and $40K from profit sharing. Geographic location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by years of experience. Nearly all enjoy medical while a strong majority get dental coverage. Vision coverage is also available to more than half. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. Women Legal Counsels who took the survey just slightly outnumber men. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.

$63,814 - $169,786
$64K
$100K
$170K
MEDIAN: $104,475
10%
50%
90%

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$19.62 - $195.74
$20
$42
$200
MEDIAN: $42.00
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
$63,814 - $169,786  
   
Bonus
$2,041 - $29,752  
Profit Sharing
$4.50 - $40,000  
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).
)
$64,383 - $188,036  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 678
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$70$140$210
Hourly Rate
$19.62 - $195.74  
   
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$140K$280K$420K
Bonus
$2,041 - $29,752  
   
Commission
$27,500  
Profit Sharing
$4.50 - $40,000  
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).
)
$64,383 - $188,036  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 12

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)

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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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Many Legal Counsels move into a Senior Counsel role, and folks who currently hold that position report a much higher median income of $169K per year. The most common career progression for Legal Counsels leads to becoming an Attorney, where pay is typically $81K. However, many Legal Counsels also opt to become Corporate Counsels, a position that pays $118K on average.

Corporate Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel


Survey results imply that Legal Counsels deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. Most notably, skills in Intellectual Property, Corporate Governance, Contract Management, and Contract Negotiation are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 10 percent and 13 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. Those who learned Legal Compliance also tend to 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.


Legal Counsels with a rich background of experience are typically rewarded with larger paychecks. Salaries of relatively inexperienced workers fall in the neighborhood of $93K, but folks who have racked up five to 10 years see a notably higher median of $125K. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $143K in this role. Respondents who claim more than 20 years of experience may encounter pay that doesn't quite reflect their extensive experience; these veterans report a median income of around $147K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $110,194

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

For Legal Counsels, busy Palo Alto offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 43 percent above the national average. Legal Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Atlanta (+23 percent), Hartford (+22 percent), San Francisco (+20 percent), and Houston (+17 percent). The smallest paychecks in the market, 12 percent south of the national average, can be found in Washington. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Chicago and Seattle (11 percent lower).

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Legal Counsel

Gender

Female
52 %
Male
48 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 90 votes.
Less than 1 year
2%
1-4 years
37%
5-9 years
34%
10-19 years
19%
20 years or more
7%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries




National Average
$110,000


Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries







Complex Litigation Case Management
up arrow 1%

National Average
$110,000

contract drafting
up arrow 5%




Real Estate
up arrow 21%

Policy Analysis
up arrow 27%

Legislative Policy
up arrow 46%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 90 votes.

Gender

Female
52 %
Male
48 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
2%
1-4 years
37%
5-9 years
34%
10-19 years
19%
20 years or more
7%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 90%
dental benefits
Dental: 80%
vision benefits
Vision: 68%
dental benefits
None: 9%
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