27 Nov 2013

Large law departments hike general counsel pay

General counsel working in large law departments of companies with revenues over $30 billion are the top earners in the general counsel stakes.

Best pay goes to GCs in biggest departments Minaedward

The  2013 Law Department Compensation Survey also showed that companies are increasingly focused on streamlining the legal department, including reducing legal costs and improving law department management.
The research revealed that general counsel  in large law departments at companies with upwards of $30 billion in revenue is 79 percent higher on average than the salaries of GCs working at $3-5 billion companies. The survey revealed that GCs in 2013 made 2.7 percent more in base salary, on average, compared to 2012. The research was carried out by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global bar association representing more than 33,000 in-house counsel in 85 countries, and  Empsight International, LLC, a consulting firm providing compensation data on more than 10,000 attorneys at Fortune 500 and smaller organisations.

Spending boosted in-house

Elsewhere, 66 percent of companies with mid-market and small legal divisions boosted inside spending and 55 percent cut outside spending costs in the last fiscal year, according to the survey. Spending patterns also varied by industry. Tech companies saw inside spending increase by 16.7 percent in the while outside spending fell 5.9 percent. The real estate industry reported that outside spending rose nearly 30 percent and inside spending increased 3.9 percent.
 “As the pendulum continues swing in favour of bringing more work in-house, ACC members and in-house counsel alike will be better positioned to make more strategic business decisions in terms of staffing, compensation and spending,” said Veta T. Richardson, ACC president and CEO. “In particular, law departments have created new positions, especially in regulatory and compliance-related roles, to address the complexity of the global legal environment.”

High demand

Employment, corporate contracts, regulatory, compliance, intellectual property, patent and general litigation were listed as high demand specialties with corresponding pay premiums as compared to generalist positions. Specifically, regulatory and compliance positions have become relatively more prevalent than others over the past three years.
 “This year’s data is consistent with our observations over the past couple of years of the growing importance of the compliance / regulatory function, including pay levels and staffing for these positions and the expanded complexity of being a general counsel,” said Jeremy Feinstein, Managing Director at Empsight.