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In and around Chicago - in Northbrook and Liberty Park, Lombard and Deerfield, the 'burbs are not the only thing that's leafy green. In-house associate salaries are appreciably higher here than for most other U.S. cities. From last year's Robert Half Legal's survey over the entire nation, in-house attorneys with 10-12 year's experience earned an overall salary increase of 3.9%. The slowly accelerating economy has kept those numbers buoyed for 2014. According to Robert Half Legal, Chicago's salary variance stands at 123.0 - outstripping the center point of 100.0. Compare that to New York City's variance of 141.00 and you can see Chicago offers in-house associates more than most.
The "most" includes opportunities with top level companies like Allstate, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and JPMorgan Chase. Chicago is a hub for insurance and finance giants like MetLife, State Farm, Aetna and Chubb Group. Banking giants USB and HSBC also have a big presence in Chicago. Or you could find yourself filling currently available posts at companies like Orbitz, Nationwide, ADP, Applied Systems, Inc., or the Chicago Board Options Exchange. A popular attorney job posting website, LawCrossing, has 114 postings in Chicago specifically for in-house litigators. Your search results may vary depending upon your key word search or how you access the web page.
There's no limit on the types of work in-house departments in Chicago can offer: Bilingual (English / Spanish) special education civil rights, information tech, class action, health care or insurance, risk management, regulatory issues, business and economic development and, of course, the ever popular personal injury tussles. Intellectual property litigators are especially in demand. Fraud and forensic investigation is a field that attorneys with an accountant bent, or an undergraduate CPA may want to look into.
You can be in the early stages of your career and still be able to make the lateral move from law firm to in-house litigation. In some instances, Chicago companies require their prospective litigators to be only one, three or five years down the career path. Other Chicago companies are looking for more seasoned professionals and talking to candidates who have up to seven and even ten years of litigation experience.
If you aspire to the top rung and want to hold the title of General Counsel, we found at least five Chicago area companies offering compensation packages that are among the top 100 in the U.S. of the most lucrative industries in Chicago, big pharma, which includes Abbott Laboratories and its spinoff, AbbVie, head up the ranks. Entertainment, banking, finance and insurance companies come close behind. The in-house General Counsel of Kraft Foods Group, Inc. in Northfield ranks at 45th in the nation in compensation, counted as salary plus stock options, totaling over $2 million. Other Chicago top dogs are Archer Daniels Midland Company at No. 49 with $1.5 million, Walgreen Co. is No. 54 at $1.47 million, and Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago is No. 62 at $2.19 million. In a good year, stock awards can double those figures. These incomes are earned with hard work. Inhouseblog.com's 2014 Compensation Survey says these numbers reflect an emphasis on performance. Pay gains are holding for 2014, but bonuses and shares received depend a good deal on quality outcomes.