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Top Trends for Healthcare & Life Sciences In-House Counsel Compensation


In 2019, overall growth in the healthcare, life sciences, and related industries was prominent. The healthcare and life sciences industries are often blended with other industries in various assessments, muddling the unique data that these influential industries carry. By separating the two, we were able to uncover significant trends in compensation.

One of the most notable trends was revealed through gender compensation breakdown. Although gender pay disparity remains, women in Managing Counsel positions in healthcare report earning 15% more than their male counterparts. This is a promising statistic that conveys that, while the gap still exists, it is a closing gap.

2020 Healthcare & Life Sciences Compensation Report Trend Summary

The 2020 Healthcare & Life Sciences Compensation Report is designed to assist candidates and employers alike to benchmark legal department compensation, apply peer comparison, and identify overarching pay trends. We have summarized the following trends as the most prominent from the preceding year:

  1. Annual Salary Increase Rates: Across the country, the average annual salary increase rate for all positions in all industries increased to 4.4%, up 0.6% from the previous year. In-house counsel at healthcare organizations align with the overall 4.4% median. Across a three-year span, attorneys experienced a dip in increase rates in the 2017 fiscal year, with rates in 2018 rising to match those measured in 2016. In contrast, salary increase rates for in-house counsel at life sciences organizations peaked at 5.2% in 2017 and fell to 4% in 2018, below the overall median.
    Salary Increase Rates

  2. Who's on the Market: 38% of respondents at healthcare and life sciences organizations indicated they would consider a new position within the next year due to compensation issues, in line with response rates across all industries for 2018. Those in healthcare are most likely to conduct a job search in the next year, with 42% reporting high or very high probability of a job search. Those in life sciences are least likely to engage in a job search, with over 65% reporting low or very low probability of a job search in the next year.
    Likelihood of Compensation-Motivated Job Search by Industry

  3. Gender Pay Trends: Across position level and company type, female in-house counsel at healthcare organizations earn 87% of what male in-house counsel earn. The disparity is greater at life sciences companies, with females earning just 81% of their male counterparts.

    The size of the gender-driven pay disparity varies significantly by position level. In healthcare, female General Counsel earn 13% less than their male counterparts, and female Senior Counsel also earn 13% less than their male counterparts. Interestingly, the disparity reverses at the Managing Counsel level, with females earning 15% more than their male counterparts.

    In life sciences, female General Counsel earn 21% less than their male counterparts, and female Senior Counsel earn 19% less than their male counterparts. The gap nearly closes at the Managing Counsel level, where males earn less than 2% more than their female counterparts.
    Compensation Breakdown by Gender -- Healthcare
    Compensation Breakdown by Gender -- Life Sciences

  4. Practice Area Highs and Lows: The following chart summarizes the highest and lowest paying practice areas for Managing Counsel and Senior Counsel (by total compensation):

Position Healthcare Life Sciences
  Highest Paying  
Managing Counsel Compliance Intellectual Property
Senior Counsel Insurance Intellectual Property
  Lowest Paying  
Managing Counsel Intellectual Property Labor & Employment
Senior Counsel Labor & Employment Compliance


In addition to these key trends, the 2020 report features a detailed breakdown of specific compensation figures for every position level: General Counsel, Managing Counsel, and Senior Counsel. Download your free copy of the 2020 Healthcare & Life Sciences Compensation Report for access to highly valuable benchmarking data today!

Topics: In-House Counsel   |   Compensation   |   Report


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