Low paid lawyers at the world’s richest philanthropy

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest charitable organization in the world. Its legal department, according to Corp. Counsel, Vol. 14, Dec. 2007 at 103, has 12 lawyers. Ironically, for such an extraordinarily endowed organization, the annual budget for that department, which has assisted with the donation of $13.6 billion since 2000, is a paltry $2.1 million. I assume that budget covers internal expenses only, not payments to outside law firms.

Let’s assume that compensation in that law department accounts for 80 percent of its internal budget, which is a generous estimate in light of the common percentage for US law departments. Next, let’s further assume that lawyer compensation is approximately 80 percent of the compensation pool (See my posts of May 16, 2007; and July 2, 2007 in support of this typical metric.). Multiplying the internal budget twice by 80 percent leaves $1,344,000 in pay for the dozen lawyers. Applying these standard benchmarks, the wealthiest US foundation measures out a meager $112,000 per lawyer per year in compensation!

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