Legal Counsel Salary

Legal Counsels receive generous compensation in the United States — earning an average of $100K per year, their standard salaries shoot well into the six-figure range. Overall cash earnings for Legal Counsels stretch from $61K on the lower end to $181K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $34K from bonuses and $25K from profit sharing. Career length and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Most Legal Counsels report high levels of job satisfaction. 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 a large number, and a fair number earn dental coverage. The information for this snapshot was generated by responses to the PayScale salary survey.

$59,628 - $161,051
(Median)
$60K
$100K
$160K
MEDIAN: $99,826
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
$59,628 - $161,051  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $33,811  
Profit Sharing
$206.08 - $24,588  
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).
)
$60,684 - $181,256  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 838
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 - $33,811  
   
Profit Sharing
$206.08 - $24,588  
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).
)
$60,684 - $181,256  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 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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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 $171K per year. More often than not, an Attorney role is the next step for Legal Counsels moving up in the field. Pay for Attorneys is usually $81K. Many Legal Counsels choose to take on a Corporate Counsel role instead, where salaries are typically $117K.

Corporate Counsel Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Legal Counsel


Legal Counsels seem to require a number of specific 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 Real Estate also typically command lower compensation. The majority of those who know Contract Negotiation also know Legal Research and Regulatory Compliance. The majority of those who know 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.


Individuals with less than five years' experience take home around $81K. In contrast, though, people who have been on the job for five to 10 years report a six-figure median of $122K. On average, Legal Counsels make $148K following one to two decades on the job. Survey participants with more than twenty years of experience only make around $128K on average, though; this group reports a lower median than the one claimed by mid-career individuals.

Pay Difference by Location


For those looking to make money, Legal Counsels in Houston enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 26 percent above the national average. Legal Counsels will also find cushy salaries in Los Angeles (+25 percent), Boston (+17 percent), Raleigh (+15 percent), and Philadelphia (+13 percent). Legal Counsels in Miami earn salaries far below the national average by 30 percent, proving that geography overwhelmingly affects the pay scale for those in this field. Workers in Columbus and Austin earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (28 percent less and 18 percent less, respectively).

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Experience Affects Legal Counsel Salaries




National Average
$104,000


Skills That Affect Legal Counsel Salaries

Contract Negotiation
up arrow 4%

Intellectual Property (IP)
up arrow 4%

Regulatory Compliance
0%

contract drafting
0%

National Average
$104,000




Real Estate
up arrow 16%


Contract Management
up arrow 31%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 132 votes.

Gender

Female
53 %
Male
47 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
41%
5-9 years
30%
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: 10%
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