Hello, Dollar Barristers! It’s been a while. 2020 was already off to a crazy start for me professionally and then the coronavirus crisis hit. I hope you and your families stay safe and healthy and things get back to normal (or as close to normal as possible) sometime soon.

In the meantime, it’s 2020 salary guide season! I wanted to point out this year’s compensation guide published by Special Counsel (which includes data from their formidable Parker + Lynch attorney recruiting group). It covers both corporate legal department salaries as well as law firms and reports on data from 6000 legal professionals across 60 cities in the U.S. You can download a copy of the guide here.

We’ll focus here, of course, on the in-house counsel salaries across small ($50M or less in annual revenue, according to Special Counsel), medium (between $50M and $501M), and large companies (over $501M), in US dollars:

In general, and anecdotally, I think these numbers are on point for cash compensation (if perhaps a bit low – average total compensation for Managing Counsel according to Barker Gilmore was $396K for large employers – nearly $150K higher. I would equate that role to the AGC row in the data above.)

Certainly the Special Counsel guide takes a 30,000-foot approach to this salary survey, unlike BarkerGilmore’s, which breaks down salary ranges by market sector and also polled respondents on long-term incentives (like RSUs, stock options, etc.). Note that I expect BarkerGilmore to publish its 2020 version of this guide soon as I just participated in the salary survey that will underpin its conclusions. And I plan on analyzing those results here at Dollar Barrister when they’re available.

My Key Takeaways:

It’s unclear to me if this survey asked about long-term incentives or just focused on cash. So if you’re using this guide as a calibration point, keep that in mind when you consider the total package that’s on offer.

It’s interesting too that there isn’t much of a difference in base salary at the counsel/senior counsel level in large companies (again, over $500M in annual revenue). This could be because those companies don’t view counsel and senior counsel as distinct roles. But notice that once you get to the AGC level, the average base salary spikes by nearly $100K. This is one of the main reasons why I tell aspiring in-house lawyers to try and wait as long as they can before making the move in-house.

Need help applying for an in-house counsel position? Check out our Dollar Barrister shop, where you’ll find great cover letter, CV, and other resources to get going. And if there’s anything that I can do to help with your search, please email me at dollarbarrister at gmail.com.