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It's Official, GCs Make a S**t Load of Money

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on December 02, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Breaking News! GCs make a ton of money. We can hear you now: "Tell us something we don't know!"

Yes, it's not polite to talk about money. But we're a lawyer site, and um, we'll, let's just say you all are not in this job because you love dealing with annoying problems and clients. Or not entirely. So let's get to it. How much are GCs really making off with today?

Equilar Study

Equilar, Inc., a company specializing in executive compensation data, recently released its results for its 2013 In-Depth Top General Counsel Pay Report. According to its findings, for GCs at Fortune 1000 companies, GC median total compensation is $1,613,654. GCs that report directly to the CEO, saw a 33.2% higher pay than GCs that don't report to the CEO. And, for companies that made more than $20 billion in revenue, the GC median pay is $2,472,037. (Sidebar: Dear husband, please become a GC. Thanks.)

Where are the Women?

Now a shout out to the female attorneys: hey ladies, only 67 GCs, of the 357 disclosed in public proxy filings, were women. The dearth of women in top positions in the legal field is not news, but it's still especially disheartening considering half of law students are women. While in-house attorneys can influence pay equity at BigLaw, it would be nice to see that sort of pay equity at the top level in corporate legal departments.

Where Is the Money Coming From?

Now, we know why GCs are so intent on paying BigLaw less -- they want to pocket it! But seriously, the money has to come from somewhere. And, if a GC can show that she is capable at efficiency and cost cutting, well the likely result will be increased compensation. BigLaw, watch out.

While working at a firm can often lead to making partner after toiling away as an associate, working in-house doesn't always lead to getting promoted to GC. If you're shooting for the big bucks, then best of luck. In the mean time, you can see if you're GC material.

Do you think GCs deserve the salaries they get? Tweet us @FindLawLP.

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