In-House Counsel Compensation on the Up and Up

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on November 18, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lawyers, good news, if you are currently employed, and have more than three years' experience, your salary will likely go up in 2014, according to a Robert Half Legal 2014 Salary Guide. Surveying 200 lawyers from firms and corporations in the U.S., the study found that hiring in legal departments of corporations "has strengthened ... to support renewed business activity and meet increased demand for legal services."

Insert collective sigh of relief here.

Relationship between Experience, Company Size and Salary

The study split up attorney salaries in several categories -- company size and the number of years' experience the attorneys had. Not surprisingly, there was a direct correlation between the number of years' experience attorneys had, the size of the company, and the attorneys' salaries.

At the high end of the spectrum were in-house attorneys with over ten years' experience working in legal departments at large companies with a 3.7% expected growth in salary. On the low end of the spectrum were attorneys with 0-3 years' experience working at small companies with 2.5% expected growth. Though at the low end to the spectrum, there is still some growth so it's not bad news at all. That growth exceeds the 1.6% change that first year associates will see at BigLaw -- not bad for in-house counsel.

Corporate Counsel v. BigLaw

In-house counsel's growing disdain for BigLaw bills is exemplified by two trends the survey pointed out: corporate departments are increasing hiring on a project basis, and expanding internal specialty teams.

Expanding Internal Teams

Corporate Law Departments are giving BigLaw the virtual finger and "going head-to-head with law firms for talented professionals as general counsel expand their internal teams to support renewed business growth, comply with new regulations and manage rising workloads." That means only one thing: more job opportunities and room for growth for in-house counsel.

Project Basis

To get specialized knowledge on an as-needed basis, corporate legal departments are staffing as needed, that is, they "are bringing in lawyers, paralegals and legal support staff on a project basis to access specialized expertise that may not be available internally and to augment efforts of in-house teams."

This is the kind of news we need right now. It's great to know that the legal industry, including corporate legal departments, is on the mend. You can stop worrying about your job, and start getting back to business.

Is your legal department recovering? Has your legal department started hiring on a project basis or expanding internal teams? Let us know on LinkedIn.

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