Cash compensation for the top four levels of legal department lawyers appear to decline from level to level by about a quarter. Eyeballing the figures in InsideCounsel, March 2008 at 56, it looks like the “General Counsel” level’s $564,000 in median cash compensation declines to about $380,000 for “Deputy General Counsel,” down to about $300,000 for “Section Head,” and further to $230,000 for “Senior Counsel.” The exact figures for the last three levels do not appear.
Even with estimates, each step down suggest that median compensation – excluding the value of stock options, grants and other perquisites – falls 25 percent from the level above. From a chart on page 58, it appears that much of that gap comes from differences in the amounts of bonuses. To give one example, for the typical general counsel, the bonus makes up 40 percent of total cash compensation. For deputy general counsel, bonuses account for about 33 percent of total pay.
If the shrinkage rate of about 25 percent of total compensation continues, then the most junior lawyers in US law departments would have median cash compensation of something like $180,000. No wonder in-house counsel push for promotions.