According to an article in Academy of Mgt. Perspectives, Vol. 23, Feb. 2009 at 18, median CEO pay in 2006 at S&P 500 companies was just over $8 million. That figure is the “sum of the salary, bonus, stock awards, option awards, non-equity incentives, changes in pension value and nonqualified deferred compensation earnings, and other compensation.” Median total cash compensation of the general counsel in the Thomson Hildebrandt benchmark survey for 2006 was $794,000 for 56 Chief Legal Officers and $569,000 for 79 General Counsel.
Unfortunately, we cannot say that CEO compensation was ten to twelve times general counsel compensation for these large companies because the legal department figures do not include anything other than cash salary and bonus and because the Hildebrandt survey has participants that are not S&P 500 companies.
The same article notes “Executive pay studies universally control for the size of the company, which is generally taken to reflect the returns to organizational complexity.” It is quite probable that pay of general counsel correlates to size of company, which in turn correlates to size of law department.