Median total cash compensation varies by legal specialty

Data in InsideCounsel, Jan. 2009 at 52, covers compensation from the Thomson Hildebrandt 2008 Law Department Survey. One of the charts shows median total cash compensation from a survey population of more than 220 law departments by seven areas of legal practice.

Patent litigation ($263,080)

M&A ($240,050)

IP general ($221,648)

International ($219,282)

Regulatory (excluding Environmental) ($214,000)

Companywide Compliance ($211,303)

Generalist ($201,118)

A year ago I commented on reasons for differences in compensation by specialty (See my post of April 8, 2007: compensation for legal specialists in-house.).

In addition to keeping the survey population fairly consistent (See my post of Feb. 12, 2009: wide swings in comp levels.), I still urge survey analysts to correct for years out of law school and size of law department. For example, to become experienced enough to be thought of as an M&A specialist you may need at least fifteen years of seasoning, during which years your compensation rises. To compare that group to “Generalists,” who could be six to ten years out of law school creates a misleading gap in compensation. Alternatively, and perhaps additionally, only the largest companies can support an M&A specialist; since the larger the company the higher the typical pay of its lawyers, differences in sizes of law departments might cause gaps between specialists.

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