Poor pay for in-house counsel, survey reveals

Many in-house attorneys still feel their pay is not as big as what their peers in law firms are making.

Despite an average salary increase of 4% over the past year, many in-house lawyers still feel that their peers working in law firms receive bigger pay, a new study reveals.

The insight comes from the BarkerGilmore 2016 In-House Counsel Compensation Report which found that the average annual salary increase rate for all position levels across industries is 4.2%, with the energy industry displaying the lowest average increase of 2.4%.
The services industry reported the highest level of salary increase at 5.68% followed by “other” (4.93%), financial (4.61%), healthcare (4.52%), consumer (4.41%), industrial (3.79%) and technology (3.74%).
The American boutique executive search firm specialising in helping firms build top legal and compliance departments  found that overall, 44% of respondents believe their compensation is below or significantly below that of their law firm peers. Litigators and counsel in the services industry reported the greatest dissatisfaction.
BarkerGilmore found that 40% of respondents indicated that they would consider a new position over the next year because of compensation. Energy industry in-house counsel indicated the greatest likelihood to be open to new employment at 50%.
It should be noted, however, that energy, healthcare and finance are the three highest-paying industries across all position levels. General counsel and managing counsel who work in the energy industry reported the highest salaries compared in-house peers working in other industries.
Meanwhile, there is a direct, positive correlation between total compensation and company revenue across all position levels, industries and practice areas, with larger companies offering greater compensation, the report noted.
For example, total yearly compensation for general counsel for companies with $10 billion or more in annual revenue is about $1.5 million compared to just over $400,000 for companies with less than $100 million in annual revenue.
BarkerGilmore gathered data through a 12-question online survey from February 2016 to May 2016 survey which was sent to a random sample of in-house counsel at various levels of seniority, within differently sized public and private companies, who are practicing within the United States. 1,073 individuals responded.

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