BarkerGilmore publishes in-house counsel compensation report

Survey compares benefits packages for general, senior, and managing counsel

BarkerGilmore publishes in-house counsel compensation report

BarkerGilmore has gathered the latest compensation data for in-house counsel and compliance officers across the U.S. in its 2023 private equity and portfolio company in-house counsel compensation report.

The boutique executive search firm, which specialises in building legal and compliance departments for companies across various industries and practice areas, administered an online survey last March 2023 in order to collect compensation information from a random sample of private equity and portfolio company professionals in the U.S. and has just published the results.

“As the private equity space continues to grow, we are seeing consistent demand for lawyers and compliance officers at both the firm and portfolio company level,” founding partner John Gilmore said. “This is generating a noticeable impact on compensation and responsibilities for these professionals. BarkerGilmore’s report emphasises the opportunities and rewards for general counsel, chief compliance officers, managing counsel, and senior counsel as they navigate the realm of private equity, serving as legal experts and strategic business advisors.”

Gilmore and managing partner Bob Barker also said that a look at updated and comparative compensation data enabled companies to make informed decisions regarding their compensation strategies and helped them attract and retain top talent.

The majority of respondents were general counsel (53%). Two in three of the participating respondents – who were their organisation’s general counsel, senior counsel, managing counsel, or chief compliance officers – were male (65%), while only one in three identified as female (35%).

Key findings from the in-house counsel compensation report for those working in portfolio companies included:

General counsel

  • A general counsel’s compensation is most impacted by the cash bonus and long-term incentive. Portfolio companies with at least US$5 billion in revenue rewarded their general counsel with a median compensation of US$1.4 million.
  • Over 80% of general counsel at portfolio companies (81%) reported to the CEO.
  • Most general counsel at portfolio companies simultaneously served as corporate secretaries (72%) and chief compliance officer (53%).

Managing counsel

  • Long-term incentive for managing counsel at portfolio companies was usually in stock options and restricted stock units, described by BarkerGilmore as company stock incentives scheduled for distribution at specific career milestones.

Senior counsel

  • Senior counsel at portfolio companies were unlikely to have long-term incentives.

The in-house compensation report also separately charted its findings for counsel in private equity companies. Key findings included:

General counsel

  • Eighty-three percent of private equity firms’ general counsel had work responsibilities beyond their legal ones. Most (85%) simultaneously served as their organisation’s chief compliance officer while close to half (44%) acted as corporate secretary.
  • After a private equity firm's assets under management exceeded US$1 billion, general counsel compensation and carry eligibility – defined as the right to a share of profits from the private equity fund – both grew significantly.
  • Where a PE fund held more than US$10 billion assets under management, general counsel generally enjoyed an annual median compensation of circa US$1.2 million, were eligible for carry 90% of the time, and would enjoy an expected carry value of US$9 million.

Managing counsel

  • Where a PE fund held more than US$10 billion assets under management, managing counsel enjoyed an annual median compensation of US$535,000, and an expected carry value of US$1.8 million.
  • Around one in three of managing counsel (30%) received carry where the private equity fund was at less than US$1 billion in assets under management.
  • Carry eligibility doubled (60%) for managing counsel where the fund exceeded US$1 billion in assets under management.

Senior counsel

  • The share of senior counsel who received carry varied between 33% to 36% depending on the value of the private equity firm's assets under management.

Chief compliance officer

  • Among BarkerGilmore’s survey respondents, chief compliance officers were the most likely (40%) to pursue new job opportunities based on compensation.
  • Where a PE fund held more than US$10 billion assets under management, chief compliance officers enjoyed an annual median compensation of US$538,000, with 40% qualifying for carry and an expected carry value of US$3 million.
  • One in four chief compliance officers (25%) were eligible to a share of profits from the private equity fund where PE funds were below US$1 billion in assets under management.

 

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