In-house Attorneys fare better in pay scale compared to their counterparts in law firms

( 284 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
If you're looking to jump to a corporate counsel position, it's important to see how well the company in question pays before you make the leap.

In-house Attorneys fare better in pay scale compared to their counterparts in law firms

So when Hildebrandt International ran a survey this past September on corporate counsel pay, some interesting things jumped out.

Hildebrandt surveyed 223 companies and found that in-house attorneys are doing fairly well, as compared to their law firm counterparts. The companies surveyed were generally large companies, with revenues of around a billion dollars or so. So, the survey's results are not typical of smaller companies with smaller legal departments.

Even so, the data is interesting. The in-house attorneys surveyed make an average of $236,000 per year in pay and bonuses, up from the $226,000 reported in the previous survey. General counsel pay, meanwhile, increased 14%, up to around $700,000, and chief legal officers — the head honchos — average around $900,000. That's not too shabby, though such officers are the first in line for backdating options scandals.

At the highest paid end of the spectrum, long-term incentives are even better — general counsels make around $1.5 million per year, while chief legal officers rake in almost $2 million.

<<What's more, demand for general counsel, except of course at financial institutions at the moment, is increasing. Over 6% more money was spent on in-house legal counsel than in the previous year.

Outside law firms, on the other hand, were expected to take a hit, with about 30% of companies saying they would decrease their outside legal spending.

So what does this all mean? Outside of financial sector firms such as Lehman Brothers, in-house counsel use appears to be growing. This makes sense, as the spiraling costs in associate salaries have spiked costs to companies. Moving more legal work in house, where the company can control legal costs to some extent, is a somewhat predictable result.

But that doesn't mean such work is easy to get. The survey also showed that the median company has almost four lawyers per each billion dollars of revenue. That's not very many, so there aren't that many positions available overall. This depends, though, of course, on the company — an aggressive company with lots of legal issues, such as Apple Inc., will have a much greater need for in-house counsel than many other companies.

In-house counsel jobs have a lot of perks, even if they generally offer a smaller salary than jobs in big law. While there is a lot of work, there is no billable hour requirement, and that alone can make life easier.

For smaller firms, the numbers noted above will of course be smaller. But still, the life of an in-house lawyer may well make it worth it. The pay is far from bad, and you might even have a life.

Good luck!

Popular tags

In-house Counsel      In-house Paralegal Jobs      In-house Pay      Corporate Counsel     

Featured Testimonials

LawCrossing was pretty easy to use. Due to the ample jobs postings, I also got many interview calls. Thanks!


LawCrossing Fact #20: The “Outbox” feature allows users to keep track of the submissions they have already sent.

Let's Do It!

Only LawCrossing consolidates every job it can find in the legal industry and puts all of the job listings it locates in one place.

  • We have more than 25 times as many legal jobs as any other job board.
  • We list jobs you will not find elsewhere that are hidden in small regional publications and employer websites.
  • We collect jobs from more than 250,000 websites and post them on our site.
  • Increase your chances of being seen! Employers on public job boards get flooded with applications. Our private job boards ensure that only members can apply to our job postings.

Success Stories

LawCrossing is fantastic! When I am looking for a job, it is the first place I come to. The service is very good and I enjoyed the emails. LawCrossing has more jobs and it is more tailored. Other sites gave a lot of irrelevant results. Your site may have a great algorithm, but it felt like an actual person choosing jobs they felt would be good based on my search. I will always recommend this site!
  • Ann Harris Harvey, LA