Are You Paid What You’re Worth? In-House Counsel Salaries Revealed
September 24, 2022
You’ve made it through law school, passed the bar exam, and secured an in-house counsel position at one of the nation’s top legal firms – but you wonder whether your salary reflects your contributions to the company.
You may not be alone in this line of thinking; in fact, many employees feel underpaid at their jobs.
A Look at the Numbers
According to our exclusive Salary Survey, the average House Counsel salary for a corporate in-house counsel is $187,000. However, this figure can vary significantly depending on what industry you work in, your title, and how long you’ve been practicing law.
For example, employment law experts make an average of $110K per year – that’s $71K less than corporate general counsels who earn an average of $281K per year. An experienced appellate lawyer with a decade of experience makes about $200K annually; outside general counsels report earning an average of $327K annually.*
*Based on House Counsel PayScale data which includes 8581 self-reported salaries for this occupation from Apr 20, 2017, to Jul 31, 2018.
Breaking Down Which Industries Pay The Most
Companies in the oil and gas industry often pay the most, averaging around $150k a year. They are followed closely by firms in the pharmaceuticals sector, who on average offer counsel $146k. The metal product
manufacturing takes third place at $139k per year. Computers, telecommunications House Counsel, and electronics (ICT) companies follow with an average salary of $125k a year.
These high salaries are often accompanied by lower starting salaries and this can be a barrier to entry for people looking to work in these fields as they need time to make up their higher earnings while they slowly advance through their careers.
Experience Matters, Especially in Law Firms
Top firms pay in the low six figures of House Counsel. One firm interviewed, Stroock Special Counsel offers an Associate salary of $200,000. Interviewees indicated that most associates at large law firms start at $160K-$180K (more likely to be under $160K) and have their salaries capped after a certain number of years.
Associates are generally eligible for bonuses, but not based on billable hours. Associates make more than attorneys or non-paralegal staff attorneys.
Should I Quit My Job and Become a Lawyer?
You may have the idea of quitting your job and becoming a lawyer. However, the House Counsel, before you make such a life-changing decision you should evaluate why you want to become a lawyer.
If the answer is something other than to do what I love, then you should explore other career options. Yes, in-house counsel may be more lucrative than being an hourly wage earner; however, working 60 hours per week can be less fulfilling than finding the balance between work and personal time.
Another downside is that lawyers who are employed by businesses risk losing their job every time there’s restructuring or downsizing or after an acquisition or merger.
Consider These Other Factors Before Quitting
No matter what your pay is, if you are not happy with your work, it’s time to make a change. Don’t be fooled by the high salaries some in-house counsel enjoy. In addition to your salary, don’t forget that your company provides benefits such as health insurance and a retirement plan.
Don’t underestimate the value of these perks when considering whether or not you should quit. Your job satisfaction is more important than how much money you are making each year. Think carefully before jumping ship on a stable position that makes sense for you personally and professionally.
What About Commuting Costs?
According to the best answer on a Quora thread, this varies based on company size and location. For example, employees of big companies living in big cities usually don’t have to commute more than 40 minutes each way. If you live outside of a city but work for a big company in one,
you might commute up to an hour each way. I’m assuming this is based on the center of the company’s headquarters – if it has a suburban office and they want you to work there instead, then your commute time may not be as bad.
Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Hours?
Lately, we’ve been hearing about the increased pressure many lawyers feel in their day-to-day work. There’s never enough time, they say. I’m just burning out from all this crazy workload.
But is it only a matter of hours you put in that can affect your tiredness? Is it possible to work too many hours and be *better* off for it, on the whole?
Are Male Lawyers Paid More Than Female Lawyers?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Male lawyers make more than female lawyers. In an ABA-sponsored report on legal employment,
it was found that men working in law firms had median salaries of $200,000 per year while women working in law firms had median salaries of $162,500 per year. Other studies have found salary discrepancies as high as 33% (i.e., men make on average one-third more than women).
One possible explanation for this discrepancy is a tendency of House Counsel among male partners to employ their wives and children in senior positions with the understanding that these senior staff members are family who can be paid less than others due to their familial connection to the head partner.
Can I Negotiate My Attorney Salary When Starting as an Attorney?
It can be a scary thought, especially when starting as an attorney House Counsel. One of the most common questions we get is, Can I negotiate my attorney’s salary? There are a few considerations to address before negotiating your starting salary including; education, law school, GPA, and experience.
Where Will I Work After Law School? That Is The Question.
In-house counsel is a professional attorney who is employed by a company or organization. Some in-house attorneys work for nonprofits and may be referred to as general counsel.
Â Most in-house attorneys are lawyers and have House Counsel completed their undergraduate degree with a bachelor’s of arts degree or a bachelor of science degree and then earned their law degree from an accredited university. After law school House Counsel,
they apply for positions within different organizations with the specific intention of House Counsel becoming an in-house lawyer.
Overall, Where Can I Expect To Get Hired, And For How Much Money (aka Salary)?
Download a free sample report by clicking the button below.
We analyzed 11,000 in-house counsel salaries. The highest-paid employees of House Counsel work at major firms House Counsel like Mayer Brown and Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Mid-sized firms with 10 to 99 attorneys offered median salaries of $137,000 while small firms had median salaries of $100,000 or less.
At the other end of the spectrum, the lowest paying firms were the House Counsel smallest (1 to 4 attorneys) with a median salary of just $45,000 per year. The sample in this report is based on our survey responses from the 2nd quarter of 2017 and is subject to change without notice. We are currently surveying law departments for updates.
Keep browsing Law Scribd for more updates.