The Small Law Department Compensation Survey, conducted in the summer of 2008 by ACC and Empsight, reports on data from approximately 340 law departments. According to a sidebar and chart in the ACC Docket, Vol. 26, Nov. 2008 at 8, the base pay of a general counsel with 1 to 2 staff is 25 percent higher than the base pay of a general counsel with zero staff. As compared to that zero staff level of base pay, a general counsel with 3 to 4 staff is 35 percent above; with five or more staff, the pay escalates to 75 percent more.
What that means to me is that if the average (or median) solo general counsel makes a $200,000 base, then the next department-size level up makes $250,000 (a quarter more), add a staff person or two and base climbs to $270,000, but the base jumps at five or more staff to a princely $350,000.
It would be useful to have a bracket for general counsel with 6 to 12 lawyers (See my post of Dec. 27, 2008: small law departments are 1-5 lawyers; and Dec. 29, 2008: medium size departments are 6-12 lawyers.). The pay premium stands out so much for the five-plus group that you wonder whether a few general counsel from relatively large departments skew the average. Unlikely, because the website states that the survey “Targets companies with revenue of $1 billion or less and 10 or fewer attorneys.”