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Compensation of in-house attorneys in Brazil, Dubai, and the United States – a need to adjust for income tax levels

As my General Counsel Metrics benchmark survey now collects compensation data, I pay more attention to findings from that realm. For example, “In Brazil, lawyers can expect to receive an average basic salary of $279,600 – 21 percent higher than the average of $231,500 in the United States.” That comes from the ACC Docket, May 2012 at 18, which draws on a compensation study done by a recruiter. I have previously reported on data for U.S. general counsel, who from my data had median base salary plus bonus of $279,457 (See my post of May 23, 2012: from General Counsel Metrics benchmark survey.). The reported Brazilian and U.S. figures seem quite high, especially if “average basic salary” does not include bonus amounts.

I digress. Here is the point of this post. “In Dubai, the average salary has reached $181,800.” That is strikingly lower than the other two national figures but as is disclosed thereafter, Dubai residents don’t pay income tax. If you were to add roughly one-third to the basic salary figure for taxes, the comparison with Brazil and the United States becomes much closer. A benchmark study, let alone a compensation study, that uses Dubain figures unadjusted would seriously misrepresent comparisons.

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