Study Reveals 2021 Was Excellent Year for In-House Compensation

BarkerGilmore, a boutique executive search firm recognized for helping companies build world-class legal and compliance departments nationwide, released their annual 2022 In-House Counsel Compensation Report today. The data was collected from a random sample of in-house counsel throughout the United States via an online survey administered between March and April 2022.

"Retaining and recruiting top talent was a focus for every company in 2021 as business demands escalated even further than 2020. The candidate-driven market prevailed in compensation packages, employer flexibility, and company culture. Companies lacking in any one of these areas certainly faced challenges. I couldn't be prouder of my team and its ability to deliver diverse slates of business-minded lawyers and compliance professionals, no matter what the circumstances," said John Gilmore, Founding Partner of BarkerGilmore.

Key trends revealed by the report include:

  1. Total Compensation Increase Rates: The median total compensation increased 21% from 2020 for all industries, across all positions. Total compensation from 2020 to 2021 reflects a bounce back, and net increase, of 10% from 2019 levels. Base compensation was up 9%, bonuses were up 37%, and LTI was up 100%. The financial industry realized the greatest total compensation increase at 27%, followed by consumer at 21%, and professional services at 20%.
  2. New Positions: Twelve percent of respondents obtained a new position in 2021, a 50% increase from 2020. Thirty-seven percent of new legal positions received sign-on bonuses. Senior Counsel were the most likely to receive a sign-on bonus at 41%. 
  3. Law School Rank: Respondents at all levels had higher total compensation if they went to a Top 100 law school. Total compensation averaged 25% higher for General Counsel, 19% higher for Managing Counsel, and 12% higher for Senior Counsel if the respondent obtained their J.D. from a Top 100 law school. Respondents that went to a Top 100 law school and had prior experience at an Am Law 200 or better law firm had a 15% higher total compensation package than respondents with the same law firm experience who did not attend a Top 100 law school.
  4. Law Firm Experience: Across all positions, respondents that worked for an Am Law 100 ranked law firm had higher total compensation packages than those with Am Law 101+ experience, small/regional firm experience, or no law firm experience. On average, in-house counsel with Am Law 100 experience had total compensation packages that were 34% greater than those with no law firm experience. 
  5. Public vs. Private: Consistent with the last five years, 2021 revealed that the compensation of those at publicly traded companies is significantly higher than at private organizations. The gap is most significant at the General Counsel level, with a 98% disparity in total compensation. 
  6. Industry Highs & Lows: This year saw interesting changes and new industry leaders. Download the report to see the industries that pay the most and the least.

To view the complete study, download the 2022 In-House Counsel Compensation Report.

Source: BarkerGilmore