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In past months rumors have spread about major airlines Delta and Northwest merging. And while a decision has yet to be reached, many have expressed a similar concern: more work for the airlines' in-house counsel.
As the latest NALP reports have already shown, the percentage of law graduates in jobs requiring an attorney license is the lowest since 1974, and similarly, the percentage of law graduates in non-lawyer jobs and jobs that do not require an attorney license is the highest ever. The in-house counsel remains somewhere in between – many in-house positions do not require an attorney license, and many do. Employers are keen to optimize their organizations and are not going to hire an attorney in an in-house position that can be manned by someone without an attorney license. That means in-house counsel, if present, are gaining respect and growth as people who businesses cannot do without.
In-house counsel almost always have a cash component in their salaries and another component that includes “stock options exercised and stock value realized” (as put by the 2012 GC Compensation survey by Corporate Counsel). The real rise and fall happens in the second component of in-house salaries, which quite often is greater than the cash component, and also subject to the whims of Wall Street. But the ‘cash component’ itself is divided into two parts – the salary and the bonus component. And the bonus can also be affected by changes in company practice and policy.