Survey finds vast geographical, gender pay differences among in-house legal leaders

Comprehensive study shows US GCs significantly out-earn non-US GCs, while men’s pay still eclipses women’s pay at nearly all levels

Survey finds vast geographical, gender pay differences among in-house legal leaders

US-based leaders of law departments at companies significantly out-earn non-US leaders, while men’s pay still eclipses women’s pay at nearly all levels in-house, according to the results of a study conducted by legal consultancy Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA).

At the chief legal officers (CLO) and general counsel (GC) level, total annual cash (TAC) for US-based in-house lawyers was US$503,078, which was about 30% more than the US$348,152 for non-US based CLOs and GCs.

The difference is even more pronounced for chief compliance officers (CCO) and counsel. CCOs in the US had an average TAC of US$396,280, 44% more than the US$220,645 of non-US CCOs. Counsel in the US had an average TAC of US$201,277, 41% more than non-US counsel.

MLA fielded the study in partnership with business advisory firm Western Management Group and received responses from 3,900 from various legal officers including CLOs, GCs, CCOs, regional general counsel (RGC), and country general counsel (CGC) from 36 countries.

MLA said that men still hold a vast majority of top positions in in-house legal teams. Despite efforts to promote diversity and pay equity globally, men still reported a higher average pay than women peers.

Globally, men’s average TAC was US$501,000 compared to women’s US$444,000. The majority of the difference may be in the form of bonuses, as men reported an average base pay of US$326,000 compared to US$307,000 for women.

 “Much of this differential may be able to be explained by the fact that fewer women hold chief legal officer and general counsel positions than men. Though there’s still a lot of work to be done, we’re optimistic that this disparity will shift in the coming years as a result of efforts to promote diversity in the C-suite,” said Melba Hughes, partner in the in-house counsel practice MLA.

In the US at the CLO and GC level, men averaged a TAC of US$519,528, compared to US$455,796 for women. Men out-earned women in the US among CCOs (US$401,426 vs US$389,121), deputy or assistant GCs (US$356,382 vs US$329,455), and counsel (US$211,679 vs US$192,328).

Women out-earned men in the US for regional and country GCs with an average TAC of US$430,675 vs US$406,975, as well as senior counsel and associate GCs with an average TAC of US$271,446 vs US$251,504.

Women only out-earned men CLOs and GC for companies with annual revenues of less than US$1m with an average TAC of US$388,200 compared to men’s US$349,889.

The gap is widest at the largest companies, those which had revenues of more than US$10bn annually. In those companies, men CLOs and GCs had an average TAC of US$1.11m compared to US$739,436 for women.

Outside the US, annual TAC for CLOs and GC are US$362,512 for men and US$325,566 for women. Among regional and country GCs, average TAC was US$301,144 for men and US$279,987 for women. There were only men CCOs and counsel outside the US and they reported an average TAC of US$255,040 and US$132,050 respectively. In the senior counsel and associate general counsel level, men’s average TAC was US$156,030 while women’s was US$144,643.

Women only out-earned men outside the US in the deputy GC and assistant GC level, with an average TAC of US$267,763 compared to US$245,430 for men.

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