New Report Reveals Comprehensive Picture of Modern General Counsel

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - 12:36

 

There are nearly 113,000 general counsel in the United States, paid an average of $408,000 each year, with those in the role placing more value on their management skills rather than legal prowess, a major new study reveals.

The findings from the 2019 General Counsel Landscape are based on analysis of 34,000 U.S. general counsel on professional social network LinkedIn, alongside job listings and compensation surveys. 
  
The study, carried out by LawGeex and the Association of Corporate Counsel finds that:

  • Management skills are the top skill listed in GC LinkedIn profiles, cited by 53% of all GCs as a core skill on their LinkedIn profile, followed by litigation (47%), corporate law (41%) and legal writing (35%).
  • Women make up 31% of the GC population (dropping to 30% within the Fortune 500).
  • Male GCs in the U.S. are paid an average of 39% more than their female counterparts.
  • Finance attracts more U.S. GCs than any other industry, with 17% percent of all GCs landing a job in the highly-regulated industry followed by government (where 10% of all GCs work), technology (10%), and manufacturing (10%).

The study also finds that skills related to “business” comprise the top words used by companies when recruiting a GC, based on an analysis of 100 job ads for the general counsel position in the United States. Business is mentioned 306 times across 100 job adverts, beating second-placed compliance (257 mentions). In contrast, traditional legal expertise such as knowledge of “agreements” (113 mentions), “risk” (107), “contract” (67), and drafting (57) are notable for their scarcity. 

Path to the Fortune 500 GC

The study also reveals the path to become a GC in the Fortune 500, revealing that 70% of those taking the top legal jobs have an in-house legal background, rather than arriving from a law firm. In addition, 27% of GCs also hold the position of executive vice president and 27% are senior vice presidents. The pay for a Fortune 500 General Counsel can reach $6.7 million annually. 
 
ACC President and CEO, Veta T. Richardson, says: “The role of General Counsel in the United States has witnessed unparalleled growth in power and prestige in the past decade. The GC, already the highest paid and most-senior role in the legal profession, has in recent years become as influential as the CFO and other senior leaders in the boardroom. With a role encompassing everything from strategic leadership, and management, to negotiating on regulation in major growth industries, the modern GC is realizing an almost limitless opportunity to imprint their experiences and knowledge in a new phase of corporate America.”

To download the full report, click here.