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Legal Counsel Salary (United States)

Average pay for a Legal Counsel in the United States is considerable, rounding six figures at $102K per year. In the world of Legal Counsels, total cash compensation can vary between $59K and $181K. Each package generally includes bonuses and profit sharing proceeds, and in exceptional cases, those amounts can reach heights of $35K and $30K, respectively. Experience level is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography. Medical benefits are awarded to a strong majority, and most earn dental coverage. Women Legal Counsels just slightly outnumber men. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. The data for this synopsis comes from respondents who took the PayScale salary survey.
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.
)
$58,934 - $158,689
(Median)
59K
74K
98K
130K
160K
MEDIAN: $97,709
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.
)
$15.40 - $125.84
(Median)
15
38
76
130
MEDIAN: $37.00
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$70K$140K$210K
Salary
$58,934 - $158,689  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $35,459  
Profit Sharing
$-0.49 - $30,100  
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).
)
$59,438 - $180,588  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 604
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
$15.40 - $125.84  
   
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 - $35,459  
   
Profit Sharing
$-0.49 - $30,100  
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).
)
$59,438 - $180,588  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 18
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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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For Legal Counsels who go on to become Senior Counsels, career advancement usually has a positive, and rather large, impact on pay. A Senior Counsel earns $171K annually on average. Becoming a Corporate Counsel is, more often than not, the most common role that Legal Counsels move into when they're ready for the next step in their career. The average salary for the position is $117K. Another frequent advance is for Legal Counsels to assume an Attorney role; in this role, workers often earn $80K.

Corporate Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel

Legal Counsels seem to require a number of specific skills. Most notably, skills in Contract Negotiation, Intellectual Property , Regulatory Compliance, and Legal Compliance are correlated to pay that is above average. Those listing Contract Management as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Real Estate and Legal Research also typically command lower compensation. Most people who know Contract Negotiation 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.
Workers in their first five years can expect to earn $80K, but people who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably bigger sum of $120K. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $147K in this role. Folks who claim more than 20 years of relevant experience actually report a comparatively lower median income of $129K. A majority of respondents report having between one and nine years of experience in this field. Experienced employees who have 10-20 years of experience make up approximately one in four of the workforce; inexperienced individuals who have been working for less than one year comprise less than five percent, and senior people with more than 20 years under their belt fill out the remaining fewer than one in twenty.

Pay Difference By Location

Houston
up arrow 28%
Atlanta
up arrow 21%
Boston
up arrow 17%
Raleigh
up arrow 17%
Philadelphia
up arrow 16%
up arrow 14%
Washington
up arrow 11%
Dallas
up arrow 4%
National Average
$102,000
Seattle
up arrow 3%
Denver
up arrow 3%
St. Louis
up arrow 7%
Chicago
up arrow 9%
Columbus
up arrow 30%
Larger circles over a city indicate a job is popular in that location.
With a pay rate for Legal Counsels that is 35 percent greater than the national average, Los Angeles offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Houston, Atlanta, Boston, and Raleigh are a few other cities that offer generous salaries, with Legal Counsels earning around 28 percent, 21 percent, 17 percent, and 17 percent more than average. The lowest-paying positions for Legal Counsels can be found in the Midwest. Columbus, Chicago, and St. Louis all face salaries below the national rate. Employers also pay below the national average in Chicago (9 percent lower) and St. Louis (7 percent lower).

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Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries

National Average
$102,000

Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries

Intellectual Property (IP)
0%
National Average
$102,000
Regulatory Compliance
up arrow 2%
Real Estate
up arrow 18%
Contract Management
up arrow 33%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied Image
Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5 based on 130 votes.

Gender

Female
54%
female alumni
 
Male
46%
male alumni

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
37%
5-9 years
31%
10-19 years
24%
20 years or more
5%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 88% dental benefits Dental: 76%
vision benefits Vision: 59% employee benefits None: 11%