Legal Counsel Salary

On average, Legal Counsels in the United States earn six-figure salaries ($105K) annually, making for a very well-paid profession. In the world of Legal Counsels, total cash compensation can vary between $65K and $190K. Each package generally includes bonuses and profit sharing proceeds, and in exceptional cases, those amounts can reach heights of $30K and $44K, respectively. Location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career duration. Men are slightly outnumbered by their female counterparts who answered the questionnaire, who make up a slight majority at 53 percent. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and a large number earn dental coverage. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.

$64,369 - $170,261
$64K
$100K
$170K
MEDIAN: $104,602
10%
50%
90%

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$19.79 - $193.92
$20
$45
$190
MEDIAN: $45.00
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
$64,369 - $170,261  
   
Bonus
$2,073 - $30,115  
Profit Sharing
$-0.49 - $44,385  
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).
)
$65,050 - $189,605  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 650
© PayScale, Inc. @ www.payscale.com
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
$19.79 - $193.92  
   
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
$2,073 - $30,115  
   
Commission
$27,500  
Profit Sharing
$-0.49 - $44,385  
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).
)
$65,050 - $189,605  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 13
© PayScale, Inc. @ www.payscale.com

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

  • 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.
  • Manage disputes and litigations.
  • Prepare and review legal documents including contracts, licenses, leases, sales and purchases, and real estate, etc.

Common Career Paths for Legal Counsel


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Advancing into a Senior Counsel role seems to be a popular career move for Legal Counsels, and folks who currently work in the latter position report a notably larger median income of $168K 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 $118K.

Corporate Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel


Legal Counsels seem to require a rather large skill set. Most notably, skills in Intellectual Property, Corporate Governance, Contract Management, and Litigation Case Management are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 11 percent and 16 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 Contract Negotiation also know Legal Research and Regulatory Compliance. Most people experienced in Legal Compliance 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.


Legal Counsels with a lot of experience tend to enjoy higher earnings. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $92K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $125K. Legal Counsels bring in $142K after working for 10 to 20 years. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make only slightly more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage; the more senior group reports median earnings of around $149K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $109,971

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

Legal Counsels will find that Palo Alto offers an impressive pay rate, one which exceeds the national average by 43 percent. Legal Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Hartford (+26 percent), Atlanta (+22 percent), Boston (+19 percent), and San Francisco (+17 percent). Legal Counsels in Milwaukee report much lower salaries than the rest of the country — 21 percent below the national average — proving that residence is a major factor in overall pay. Washington and Seattle are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 14 percent lower and 11 percent lower, respectively.

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Legal Counsel

Gender

Female
53 %
Male
47 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 88 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

▲35%

▲29%

▲13%

National Average
$110,000

▼16%

Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries







Complex Litigation Case Management
▲1%

National Average
$110,000

contract drafting
▼5%




Real Estate
▼20%

Policy Analysis
▼26%

Legislative Policy
▼45%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 88 votes.

Gender

Female
53 %
Male
47 %

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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