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Legal Counsel Salary

Average pay for Legal Counsels in the United States is more than reasonable, with annual salaries pushing past the six-figure mark ($99K). Cash earnings for Legal Counsels — including $35K in bonuses and $25K in profit sharing proceeds near the top of the pay scale — generally stretch from $60K to $182K depending on individual performance. Location and experience level each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A large number report receiving medical coverage from their employers and a fair number collect dental insurance. Women make up a slight majority of Legal Counsels (53 percent) survey respondents. Job satisfaction for Legal Counsels is high. This report is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$59,221 - $161,234
(Median)
$59K
$99K
$160K
MEDIAN: $98,789
10%
50%
90%

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$19.34 - $122.34
(Median)
$19
$33
$120
MEDIAN: $33.00
10%
50%
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
$59,221 - $161,234  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $34,718  
Profit Sharing
$201.34 - $24,903  
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).
)
$60,291 - $182,075  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 16 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 823
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
$19.34 - $122.34  
   
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 - $34,718  
   
Profit Sharing
$201.34 - $24,903  
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).
)
$60,291 - $182,075  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 16 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 30
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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 $172K per year. The most common promotion for Legal Counsels is Corporate Counsel, a position that typically pays $118K annually. Another standard transition for Legal Counsels seeking advancement is to assume an Attorney role, where pay is often $81K.

Corporate Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel


Survey results suggest that Legal Counsels use a fairly large toolkit of professional skills. Most notably, skills in Contract Negotiation, Intellectual Property, contract drafting, and Regulatory Compliance are correlated to pay that is above average. Those listing Contract Management as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Legal Research and Legal Document Review also typically command lower compensation. The majority of those who know Legal Compliance also 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.


Although inexperienced employees take home approximately $80K, those who have five to 10 years under their belts benefit from a six-figure median of $122K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Legal Counsels make a median salary of $148K. Legal Counsels who have racked up more than two decades of experience report lower incomes overall; the average sum for this crowd comes out to only $126K.

Pay Difference by Location


For Legal Counsels, busy Los Angeles offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 39 percent above the national average. Legal Counsels will also find cushy salaries in Houston (+27 percent), Atlanta (+19 percent), Boston (+18 percent), and Raleigh (+16 percent). Legal Counsels' salaries are heavily influenced by location — Legal Counsels in Miami bring in salaries that are 28 percent lower than the national average. Employers also pay below the national average in Columbus (27 percent lower) and Austin (17 percent lower).

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Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries




National Average
$102,000


Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries

Contract Negotiation
up arrow 4%

Intellectual Property (IP)
up arrow 3%

contract drafting
up arrow 2%

National Average
$102,000

Regulatory Compliance
up arrow 1%



Real Estate
up arrow 14%



Contract Management
up arrow 30%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 141 votes.

Gender

Female
53 %
Male
47 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
40%
5-9 years
29%
10-19 years
22%
20 years or more
5%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 89% dental benefits Dental: 77%
vision benefits Vision: 62% employee benefits None: 11%
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