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Preliminary compensation data on general counsel in smaller law departments

For the first time, this year’s General Counsel Metrics benchmark survey collects and reports on compensation data. Only law departments in the United States or Canada are eligible to submit lawyer and administrator compensation data and receive a report, at no cost. To obtain your benchmark report, click on this link and submit your 2011 staffing and spending data.

Sixty-three general counsel have so far provided their salary, bonus, and equity award. On average they have been out of law school 23 years. The average number of lawyers in their departments was just under five, so bear in mind that these are smaller departments. As such their size is representative of the majority of legal departments in the United States. Smaller departments don’t pay as handsomely as large departments (See my post of April 16, 2012: five specialty areas and compensation.).

The median general counsel salary last year was $220,000, while the median cash bonus was $55,000. Overall, for salary plus cash bonus, the median general counsel of this group received $279,457.

Of note, 38 of the general counsel (60%) received no equity award at all. Of those who did, the median award reached a whopping $260,000! Perhaps just an artifact of this particular slice of preliminary data, even so for general counsel granted options or restricted stock, that grant was almost as large as their cash compensation. Combining equity and bonus, the incentive portion of compensation was half or more.

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