Legal Counsel Salary

Legal Counsels receive generous compensation in the United States — earning an average of $99K per year, their standard salaries shoot well into the six-figure range. Total incomes of Legal Counsels incorporate potential for, in a few cases, more than $35K from bonuses and close to $25K from profit sharing; these performance components cause packages to range between $60K and $181K. Geography is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career length. Work is enjoyable for Legal Counsels, who typically claim high levels of job satisfaction. Men are slightly outnumbered by their female counterparts who answered the questionnaire, who make up a slight majority at 54 percent. Most report receiving medical coverage from their employers and a strong majority collect dental insurance. The figures in this overview were provided by individuals who took PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$59,400 - $160,221
(Median)
$59K
$99K
$160K
MEDIAN: $99,006
10%
50%
90%

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$24.53 - $101.74
(Median)
$25
$33
$100
MEDIAN: $32.00
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
$59,400 - $160,221  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $35,065  
Profit Sharing
$198.66 - $25,169  
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).
)
$60,471 - $180,748  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 31 Mar 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 789
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
$24.53 - $101.74  
   
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 - $35,065  
   
Profit Sharing
$198.66 - $25,169  
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).
)
$60,471 - $180,748  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 31 Mar 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 29

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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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Legal Counsels might see a strong upturn in salary after transitioning into upper-level roles such as Senior Counsel, a seemingly popular career choice. People currently working in the latter position report a noticeably higher median income of $173K per year. The most common career progression for Legal Counsels leads to becoming a Corporate Counsel, where average pay is $117K annually. However, many Legal Counsels also opt to become Attorneys. Typically, an Attorney brings home $81K.

Corporate Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel


Survey results suggest that Legal Counsels put a wide range of professional skills to use. Most notably, skills in Intellectual Property, Contract Negotiation, 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 Real Estate also typically command lower compensation. Those proficient in Contract Negotiation are, more often than not, also skilled in Legal Research and Regulatory Compliance. People who know Legal Compliance usually 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.


Respondents with less than five years' experience take home $80K on average. In contrast, those who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably higher average of $121K. On average, Legal Counsels make $147K following one to two decades on the job. Respondents who boast more than 20 years of experience can't seem to boast paychecks reflecting that extensive experience, though; veteran Legal Counsels report making only $127K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


Los Angeles offers some of the highest pay in the country for Legal Counsels, 39 percent above the national average. Legal Counsels can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Houston (+24 percent), Atlanta (+22 percent), Boston (+20 percent), and Raleigh (+16 percent). Location is a huge contributor to overall pay, with Legal Counsels in Miami earning a whopping 27 percent below the national average. Columbus and Austin are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 27 percent lower and 17 percent lower, respectively.

Related Job Salaries

United States (change)

Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries




National Average
$103,000


Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries



contract drafting
up arrow 1%

National Average
$103,000

Regulatory Compliance
up arrow 3%



Legal Document Review
up arrow 14%

Real Estate
up arrow 15%


Contract Management
up arrow 30%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 146 votes.

Gender

Female
54 %
Male
46 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
39%
5-9 years
30%
10-19 years
22%
20 years or more
5%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 89% dental benefits Dental: 76%
vision benefits Vision: 61% employee benefits None: 11%