For general counsel seeking a hefty paycheck, it looks as though there's no better place to be than New York. A larger proportion of the top 100 best paid GCs in the U.S. work in New York than in any other state.
Eighteen of the top 100 best paid GCs are based in the Empire State. Texas and California tied for second place, each with 10 GCs among the top 100 in the 2017 General Counsel Compensation Survey conducted by Corporate Counsel, a New York Law Journal affiliate.
Compensation is driven by "so many variables," said Lee Udelsman, managing partner of the in-house practice group with Major, Lindsey & Africa. Those factors include "the nature of the company, the band in which it's in: Fortune 100, 200, 300, 400 or 500 and what other members of the leadership team are making."
Udelsman said that "geographic location, of course, is one as well," noting that an employee "in Toledo doesn't make as much as someone in New York."
Across the country, by most metrics, general counsel in the report seem to have done well in 2016. Keane serves as a prime example. When she appeared as the list's highest-paid GC in 2011, she had received $6.5 million in cash pay. In 2016, she made about $2.5 million more, a significant boost.
This represents a broader trend, says Udelsman. "The GC role is being embraced as part of the leadership team and their sphere of influence has really expanded," he says. "Compensation reflects that and has continued to rise over the past five, six, seven years."