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General counsel at huge US companies are handsomely rewarded

Of the Fortune 500 general counsel who were among their company’s five highest-paid officers in 2007, the 100 with the highest cash compensation had an average salary of $567,195. Twice as high, at $1,039,931 was their average bonus/nonequity incentive cash compensation. On top of that pile of cash, their average stock award (restricted stock grant) was $1,324,232 while their average stock option value was $720,470.

In sum, from Amy Miller’s detailed report in Corp. Counsel, Vol. 15 Aug. 2008 at 76, the four component averages expressed as a percentage of the average total pay package were 15 percent salary, 30 percent bonus, 36 percent stock award, and 19 percent stock options. All of that amounted to a stupendous $3.6 million average total compensation for the 100 general counsel researched

Note that a “bonus” is defined as a discretionary cash distribution. “Nonequity incentive compensation” is tied to the company’s achievement of specific financial metrics, such as profits, revenue or operating income.

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