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General Counsel Pay Trends

Featuring commentary from


General Counsel Pay Trends, an Equilar publication, analyzes the compensation of General Counsel (GC) disclosed in the SEC filings by Equilar 500 companies for the last five fiscal years. The Equilar 500 is comprised of 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), with adjustments to compare to the sector mix of similar large-cap indices. The report highlights trends in the compensation of GC and how companies decide to compensate the position. BarkerGilmore offered independent commentary to provide color on the shift in the role of the General Counsel in the last decade and how succession planning for top legal talent is critical in today’s corporate landscape.

About the Report

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Key Findings:

  • Median reported total pay among Equilar 500 General Counsel was $2.6 million, a 3.7% increase from the previous year. General Counsel in the healthcare sector received the highest total compensation.
  • CEOs at companies generating between $7B and $10B in revenue received four times the total compensation of the median General Counsel, the highest ratio in the study.
  • Performance incentives accounted for the largest component of General Counsel compensation in value as well as prevalence in 2018. Across the five-year period, performance incentives have also been the fastest growing element of pay.
  • Since 2015, male General Counsel have out-earned their female counterparts by over 11.0%, on average. In the last year, median total compensation for men increased by 4.4% while pay for women decreased by 9.4%.