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GC Compensation Is Up, as the Gender Pay Gap Lives On

Jennifer Williams-Alvarez law.com

General counsel will be pleased to hear that their compensation is continuing to increase, according to a new report, with bonuses growing drastically from 2015 to 2016. But there’s a discouraging side to the data too— there continues to be a gender pay gap at all levels in legal departments.

The 2017 In-House Counsel Compensation Report from legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa looked at compensation data from more than 2,200 in-house counsel (including 500 GCs and chief legal officers) between 2015 and 2016. The study reveals that general counsel during this period saw a 9.6 percent increase in total compensation, with base salaries increasing a little over 1 percent and bonuses growing by a whopping 38 percent.

The boost in GC compensation really reflects the ongoing trend in which top in-house lawyers are more often considered integral parts of the senior management team, said Andrea Bricca, a partner in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s in-house practice group. “The general counsel plays a more important role, and so their stature within the organization increases,” Bricca explained.

But not all in the legal department are faring as well as GCs, according to the report. For those in the lower ranks, both base salaries and bonuses dipped slightly from 2015 to 2016, with the former dropping around $2,000, based on average salaries in both years, and the latter decreasing by about $3,000. Bricca said it’s not unique to legal that there’s been “a stagnation of wages in the kind of middle of organizations.”

She added, however, that this year, she expects to see an uptick in compensation numbers for attorneys in the lower ranks of the legal department because they are more in demand, which means more leverage for negotiating pay.

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