A “record-breaking” number of in-house lawyers participated in the 2019 BarkerGilmore In-House Counsel Compensation Report (approximately 2000 of us, including yours truly!) As I’ve said before here at Dollar Barrister, I find these annual surveys to be invaluable in benchmarking my own compensation and advising friends and colleagues who are also in-house on the suitability of their compensation packages.

While any internet-based survey needs to be viewed with some grain of salt, I personally found the data in this 2019 edition of the Report to be generally consistent with what my friends and colleagues are earning. I also think BarkerGilmore does a great job of parsing the data it receives in a meaningful way that should be helpful both to job seekers and in-house lawyers getting ready to fight their finance and accounting departments during FY20 budgeting (more on that issue in a future article here at Dollar Barrister).

The Report starts out with an interesting summary on the state of in-house counsel compensation here in 2019:

“This year, in-house counsel reported unprecedented rates of compensation satisfaction, with over 62% of lawyers unlikely to look for a new job and almost 60% believing their compensation is appropriate in comparison to peers. . . . In-house counsel are well-paid, enjoy the law department culture, experience camaraderie and business challenges, and are bound by golden handcuffs due to rich stock packages and a bull market. . . . The price of top legal talent increased significantly in 2018 and shows signs of continuing through 2019.”

Definitely good food for thought if you’re a law firm associate still in the billable trenches and on the fence about making a move in-house.

Some other interesting notes before we get into the compensation data:

First, the average annual salary increase rate for all positions across all industries that responded to the survey was 4.4% (up from 3.8% in 2017.) Restricted stock units (RSUs) “are by far the most common form of LTI (long-term incentive) compensation offered by most public companies; over 50% of all LTI recipients report a structure surrounding RSUs.”

Unfortunately, the survey identified a gender pay gap, with female in-house lawyers reporting 85% of the compensation their male peers earn. However, this gap is most pronounced at the General Counsel level (17%), and is 5% smaller than it was in 2017. Managing counsel and senior counsel reported a 5% and 7% gap, respectively, both of which were also lower in 2017. So hopefully we are trending here in the right direction.

The Report also includes some highly granular data on compensation for general counsels (lead lawyer for an organization’s legal function), managing counsels (senior-level lawyer with direct reports), and senior counsels. These numbers are median figures and include base salary, long-term incentives (LTI), and cash bonus. I’ve also pulled out figures for certain industries of interest, including tech, financial and professional services, and consumer products:

Without further ado (and a big thanks once again to BarkerGilmore for making this information publicly available to us!):

GENERAL COUNSEL – TOTAL COMPENSATION
(includes base salary, cash bonus, and LTI)

By Company Revenue

<$500M               $399K

$500M-$1B         $475K

$1B-$5B               $720K

$5B+                     $1.4M

Private/Public (Median Total Compensation by Industry)

Consumer:          $733K/$440K

Healthcare:         $657K/$333K

Financial:             $811K/$540K

Prof. Services:    $913K/$360K

Technology:        $919K/$405K

MANAGING COUNSEL – TOTAL COMPENSATION

By Company Revenue

<$500M               $315K

$500M-$1B         $327K

$1B-$5B               $364K

$5B+                     $396K

Private/Public (Median Total Compensation by Industry)

Consumer:          $320K/$3540K

Healthcare:         $300K/$374K

Financial:             $390K/$335K

Prof. Services:    $277K/$270K

Technology:        $330K/$407K

Managing Counsel cash bonus (as a percentage of base compensation):

By Company Revenue (private/public)

<$500M               19%/23%

$500M-$1B         25%/23%

$1B-$5B               30%/33%

$5B+                     30%/32%

Managing Counsel long-term incentive compensation (LTI)

By Company Revenue (private/public)

<$500M               $1K/$32K

$500M-$1B         $10K/$45K

$1B-$5B               $40K/$64K

$5B+                     $49K/$72K

SENIOR COUNSEL – TOTAL COMPENSATION

By Company Revenue

<$500M               $221K

$500M-$1B         $246K

$1B-$5B               $227K

$5B+                     $262K

Private/Public (Median Total Compensation by Industry)

Consumer:          $203K/$238K

Healthcare:         $176K/$266K

Financial:             $289K/$250K

Prof. Services:    $197K/$239K

Technology:        $228K/$259K

There’s also some interesting data around total compensation by JD year for both managing and senior counsel:

MANGING COUNSEL – TOTAL COMPENSATION BY JD YEAR

1980-84:              $417K

1985-89:              $457K

1990-94:              $415K

1995-99:              $396K

2000-04:              $364K

2005-09:              $337K

2010-15:              $233K

SENIOR COUNSEL – TOTAL COMPENSATION BY JD YEAR

1980-84:              $277K

1985-89:              $215K

1990-94:              $259K

1995-99:              $280K

2000-04:              $281K

2005-09:              $237K

2010-15:              $206K

What are your impressions of this data? Is it in step with your compensation? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!