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In-House Counsel

Median GC Compensation Is $1.4M, and the Perks Are Also Decent

Posted Nov 8, 2012 7:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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General counsel compensation is on the upswing at the same time that in-house lawyers are taking a more strategic role at their companies.

The median compensation for surveyed general counsel in the Fortune 1000 is $1.4 million, an increase of 2.4 percent for the respondents who also participated in the 2011 survey, Corporate Counsel reports. The figure includes a median base salary of $425,000, along with bonuses, options and performance incentives.

The figures are from a survey of 404 top in-house lawyers by Equilar, which bills itself as the leading provider of executive compensation data. Corporate Counsel highlights another interesting statistic: About 69 percent of the surveyed lawyers said they also had access to corporate perks, including company cars or drivers (cited by 23.5 percent), company aircraft (11.6 percent), club memberships (8.4 percent), and home or personal security (4 percent).

The Wall Street Journal noted the figures in a story that examines the importance of in-house lawyers who increasingly are working with CEOs on business goals, legal issues and future risks. “In-house work holds more allure as companies that face mounting legal and regulatory risks rely on—and reward—their own teams of lawyers,” the story says.

The Wall Street Journal identifies several reasons why in-house legal departments are taking on increasing importance. Many companies have added to their internal compliance programs as a result of increased enforcement of the federal law that bars the payment of bribes overseas. Compliance is also a concern as a result of the Dodd-Frank financial law rewarding whistleblowing employees who report securities violations.

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