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In-House Counsel Salaries

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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 Salaries


The average base salary increase among all legal department staff in 2011 was 3.3 percent according to industry reports, which is slightly better than the 2.6% increase seen in 2010. Companies are also starting to recognize that it is better to hire the best available than those who are stressed out at law firms and seeking in-house positions as an alternative. Understandably, businesses are starting to compete with law firm salaries and the traditional stereotype of an in-house lawyer with half the pay and half the work of someone is private practice is in the process of rapid demolition.

In 2011, in-house counsel, specifically general counsel had an increase of 6.1 percent in base salaries. However, the real money was not in regular salaries, but in bonuses and incentives . The average bonus increase among in-house general counsel was by 18.3 percent, proving that the compensation focus was more on performance than ever before. While salaries are already at pre-recession levels, the real growth is in cash. While total cash compensation including base salary and cash bonus increased in 2011 across all attorney levels by an average of 7.5 percent, in-house counsel experienced a 13.7 percent increase in total cash compensation with bonuses accounting for more than 40 percent of the package.

Where businesses are hiring in-house counsel, they are doing it only when they cannot do without – and that means the workload is stupefying to ordinary untrained minds. However, the length of the recession has also caused enough fingers to burn and many employers have become acutely aware that it is better to hire an attorney where one is needed. There is a mild growth in job openings for in-house counsel though companies are choosy and selective of the talent they are recruiting. With law firms going out of business every day, big businesses are once again trying to develop long-term in-house employees to handle legal work, so that company prospects do not suffer much due to insolvency of appointed law firms.

See the following articles for more information:
 


About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives


Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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