Legal Counsel Salary (United States)

Legal Counsels enjoy a hefty income, with average pay passing six figures ($101,746) annually in the United States. Compensation starts at $59,438 and can reach $180,588 per year. Overall cash allowance, which can include more than $35K from bonuses and close to $30K from profit sharing—generally runs from $58,934 to $158,689. Career duration and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Women make up a slight majority of Legal Counsels (54 percent). For the most part, Legal Counsels enjoy their work and report high levels of job satisfaction. The figures in this overview are derived from responses to 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  
PayScale
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  
PayScale
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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Oftentimes, Legal Counsels' salaries rise greatly in accordance with career advancement. Those who assume a higher-end position such as a Senior Counsel usually get paid an extra $69K per year. Going from Legal Counsel to Corporate Counsel is the transition that occurs most often in this field, where the paychecks are bigger by $15,546. Many others choose to work as Lawyers, where pay actually goes down by $21K.

Legal Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel

Overall, survey participants reported applying a fair number of skills to their work. 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. Those familiar with Contract Negotiation also tend to 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. Salary comes to $147K after 10 to 20 years. Unfortunately, Legal Counsels with considerable experience—two decades in the field—see paychecks plunge to $129K. Experienced employees who have 10-20 years of experience make up 24 percent of the workforce; inexperienced individuals who have been working for less than one year comprise less than five, and senior people with more than 20 years under their belt fill out the remaining less than five. A majority of respondents report having between one and nine years of experience in this field.

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.
For those looking to make money, Legal Counsels in Los Angeles enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 35 percent above the national average. Those in search of high salaries should also consider checking out cities like Houston, Atlanta, Boston, and Raleigh, top-paying markets where Legal Counsels rake in more than the national norm (+28 percent, +21 percent, +17 percent, and +17 percent). Legal Counsels in Columbus, Chicago, and St. Louis—all located in the Midwest—not only make less than the national average for those in this profession but represent the lowest-paid cities in the country for Legal Counsels. Workers in Chicago and St. Louis earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (-9 percent and -7 percent).

Related Job Salaries

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%
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