Male chief legal officers out-earn female peers: ACC survey

Minority CLOs are earning less than non-minority counterparts, survey reveals

Male chief legal officers out-earn female peers: ACC survey

Male chief legal officers earn US$19,857 more, on average, than their female counterparts, according to a survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel and Empsight. Interestingly, women deputy general counsel receive US$4,457 more, on average, than their counterparts among men. Self-identified non-minority chief legal officers make US$42,135 more, on average, than their minority counterparts.

The 2021 Law Department Compensation Survey seeks to offer the most comprehensive law department compensation data set, with over 18,000 entries, so that leaders can accurately benchmark their practices against their peers.

The 2021 data shows a significantly higher base salary, incentives and total cash compensation levels compared with the 2020 results.

The survey’s large and mid-market edition, which exclusively covers in-house legal professionals at the department level, has revealed the following findings:

  • Chief legal officers in multi-lawyer departments at organizations with revenue of US$1-2 billion receive 31 per cent more in base salaries compared with organizations with revenue of US$100 million and lower.
  • Senior attorneys in companies with US$1-2 billion make base salaries that are similar to those in lower-revenue categories.
  • At least half of the newly included positions within the legal operations job family are eligible for short-term bonus incentives. This may show a rise in perceived value and importance of such positions to management’s success and to the corporate legal function’s stability, said the press release.
  • The highest-ranked issue of concern was compensation competitiveness, then work flexibility, then employee benefits.

For the small law department compensation survey’s results focusing on in-house counsel, most responses were based on positions within organizations with revenue lower than US$2 billion, while for legal operations, most responses were based on positions within organizations with revenue of over US$1 billion.

“With the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, and in the midst of a tremendous amount of employee transition, this survey is a valuable asset to help department leaders ensure that their compensation, retirement, and paid time off remain competitive to retain and attract top-level talent,” said Blake Garcia, the association’s director of research, in a press release.

The survey makes use of a comprehensive, hybrid data collection process for recording extensive data from organizations of all sizes. The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) assisted in collecting additional data to supplement the survey’s insights relating to positions in legal operations.

“The hybrid data collection approach allows us to collect a significant amount of company sourced data from larger organizations, while also digging deeper into overall compensation packages for smaller companies as well,” said Jeremy Feinstein, Empsight International’s managing director and co-founder, in the press release.

“Legal Operations has become indispensable to companies and as shown in the CLOC State of the Industry report and other recent studies, continues to be on the rise,” said Mike Haven, CLOC’s president, in the press release. “The function is evolving rapidly from tactical to a strategic leadership role in legal departments across the industry.”

Haven added that, while there is more work to be done, it was encouraging to see competitive salaries and benefits among legal operations professionals.

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