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BarkerGilmore and Equilar Announce Release of New General Counsel Pay Trends Report

BarkerGilmore LLC - August 27, 2020


The responsibilities of General Counsel have expanded in recent years, propelling a position once known solely as the head of the legal department into a key executive team member who contributes to strategic and risk management decisions. To recruit and retain exceptional talent, many corporations are investing in General Counsel compensation at higher rates than ever before. Equilar and BarkerGilmore are pleased to share the General Counsel Pay Trends 2020 Report to inform the General Counsel compensation conversation. The report examines the 500 largest (by reported revenue) U.S.-headquartered companies that trade on one of the three major U.S. stock exchanges (Nasdaq, NYSE, or NYSE American).

Since 2015, median total compensation for General Counsel has risen 12% across Equilar 500 companies, reaching $2.6 million in 2019. There has been significant sector variance over the last five years, with some sectors showing steady increases (healthcare, utilities) and others more volatile (communication services, real estate, and technology). Performance incentives have outpaced base salary increases since 2015 to being 17.9% larger than salary in 2019.

Highlights from General Counsel Pay Trends 2020 Report include:

  • Median General Counsel pay at companies with revenue over $20 billion reached $4.6 million in 2019.
  • Total median compensation for male GC reached $2.8 million in 2019, compared to $2.5 million for women.
  • The only pay component in which female GC out-earned males was stock awards. The median value of stock awards granted to female GC was $13,000 higher than that of male GC.
  • Among Equilar 500 General Counsel, median compensation peaked for those who have been at their companies for 0-5 years at $2.9 million. Interestingly, median compensation was lowest for General Counsel in the study that have been at their companies for 20 or more years.

According to John Gilmore, Managing Partner at BarkerGilmore, “Determining exactly how much a GC should earn simply by considering a peer group is not practical. As the data reveals, compensation reported for Named Executive Officers (NEOs) is all over the map, ranging from a low of $400K up to an astonishing $25MM”.

View the entire 2020 Equilar & BarkerGilmore General Counsel Pay Trends Report. Also, join the teams of BarkerGIlmore and Equilar September 15, 2020 at 1:00 PM ET for a webinar, “General Counsel Pay and Duties During a New Normal.” Learn more and register on the Equilar website.