Legal Counsel Salary (United States)

Wages for Legal Counsels in the United States are plentiful, with average pay above six figures ($101,746) per year. The range in pay spans from $59,438 to $180,588 per year. Career duration and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A strong majority enjoy medical while most get dental coverage in this occupation. Vision coverage is also available to more than half. Women Legal Counsels just slightly outnumber men in the field. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Legal Counsels. The numbers for this synopsis were furnished by individuals who completed 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.
)
$58,934 - $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, career progression typically leads to a rather large increase in compensation. Usually, an upper-level role like a Senior Counsel will earn an extra $69K annually than those further down the career ladder. As Legal Counsels progress in their field, many go on to become Corporate Counsels. In fact, this transition is more common than anything else, and pay is raised by $15,546 per year. Another common career choice for Legal Counsels is to move into a Lawyer role—oddly enough, this promotion comes with a pay cut of $21K.

Legal Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel

Survey results show that Legal Counsels use a fair number of skills. Contract Negotiation is considered a valuable skill and can increase employee pay by 7 percent. 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.
From $80K to $120K, starting salaries exceed six figures after five to 10 years. Earnings total $147K after one to two decades. After two decades on the job, Legal Counsels' pay actually begins to decline, averaging $129K. Experienced employees who have 10-20 years of experience make up about a quarter 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 less than five percent. More than half of the workforce has between one and nine years of experience.

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.
Los Angeles offers some of the highest pay in the country for Legal Counsels, 35 percent above the national average. Legal Counsels will also find cushy salaries in Houston (+28 percent), Atlanta (+21 percent), Boston (+17 percent), and Raleigh (+17 percent). Legal Counsels looking to maximize their salary may want to steer clear of the Midwest, where three of the lowest-paying cities in the field—Columbus, Chicago, and St. Louis—are located. Employers in Chicago and St. Louis also lean toward paying below-median salaries (-9 percent and -7 percent, respectively).

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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%