Inhouse Counsel Salaries – 2021 Guide

Inhouse Counsel Salaries – Introduction

Inhouse counsel salary data is not easy to find or consistently reported, but we’ve collected resources to help you in your search. There are many ways to compare your inhouse counsel salary or law firm salary with those of your peers, and to help you determine if you are being compensated fairly. You may want to review some of the guides we have listed, speak to recruiters or test the waters yourself by applying for an in-house counsel job or General Counsel job.

Let us know if you find other resources as we are always looking to keep this in-house counsel salaries guide as informative as possible

Robert Half’s 2021 Inhouse Counsel Salaries Guide

Robert Half Legal has released its latest report which contains data on projected inhouse counsel salaries for 2021. The report uses percentage tiers this year as a way to present in-house counsel salary data.  For example, a number in the 25th percentile might be for a candidate who is “little or no prior experience in the position” and “still developing relevant skills”.  In contrast, a number in the 95th percentile might be for a candidate who has “exceptionally strong skills, expertise and experience often over and above what it necessary” and may “have specialized certifications”.

Using these percentage tiers, Robert Half Legal’s guide shows an inhouse counsel salaries range of $140,500 to $321,750 for a General Counsel from the 25th percentile to the 95th percentile, $120,750 to $268,500 for an in-house counsel with 10+ years experience from the 25th percentile to the 95th percentile, $81,000 to $202,000 for an in-house counsel for an in-house counsel with 4-9 years experience from the 25th percentile to the 95th percentile, and $68,000 to $179,750 for an in-house counsel with 0-3 years experience from the 25th percentile to the 95th percentile.

The Robert Half Salary Guide gives guidance on inhouse counsel salaries for positions in demand, as well as methods for adjusting the inhouse counsel salaries based on where the in-house attorney will be working.  The Robert Half Legal Guide is a great resource and worth a close review by all inhouse counsel – it’s available as a free download.

Special Counsel’s 2021 Legal Salaries Guide

Another fertile source of data on in-house counsel salaries is Special Counsel’s 2021 Legal Salary Guide for Attorneys and Legal Professionals. In addition to covering in-house counsel at different levels from eDiscovery Counsel all the way up to the General Counsel level, Special Counsel provides data broken down by company size for small ($50M or less in annual sales), medium ($51M-$500M in annual sales) and large ($501M or more in annual sales). For example, based on the data in their report, a Counsel can expect compensation ranging from $120,050 to $201,400 from a small to a large company, while a General Counsel can expect compensation ranging from $197,231 to $327,092 from a small to a large company. Special Counsel’s report also provides average base salaries for different roles.

BarkerGilmore’s 2020 In-House Counsel Compensation Report & 2020 General Counsel Compensation Report

BarkerGilmore’s In-House Counsel Compensation Report for 2020 is available online. BarkerGilmore’s report is the most recent data released on in-house counsel compensation, and has significant data for those tracking in-house salary trends. BarkerGilmore has also released a 2020 General Counsel Compensation Report, which will be of interest to current and aspiring General Counsel. Some of the high-level trends in the report are summarized in their General Counsel Compensation: A Deep Dive blog post. It is clear from the latter that the pandemic has had a major effect on General Counsel compensation, and a recovery may take time as their blog post indicates:

“Today, General Counsel are carrying greater weight on their shoulders, working endless hours, and managing stress with anticipation that bonuses and equity awards for 2020 will be significantly reduced — or not paid at all. Some of these remarkable leaders may not receive the appreciable performance awards to which they are accustomed, and of which they are deserving, until full economic recovery is achieved, likely several years from now.”

Robert Half’s Legal Salary Calculator

In addition to their in-house counsel salary guide, Robert Half provides a salary calculator on their website that can help you calculate an in-house counsel salary range and midpoint salary by different levels of in-house positions and geographic location. This can help you see what potential in-house counsel compensation might be in different parts of the country.

Recruiters Know Inhouse Counsel Salaries

Don’t rely solely on guides, work with legal recruiters in your area as they are often able to use their experience to estimate in-house counsel salaries for different types of positions and their general geographic region. They can also give you their thoughts on how in-house counsel salaries really compare “on the ground” based on the cost of living in different areas. If you are lucky enough to be comparing offers, it is good to know what your purchasing power will look like.

Want To Find Inhouse Counsel Salaries for Specific Jobs?

If you are looking to find in-house counsel salaries for specific jobs, you should consider testing the market yourself. There are thousands of in-house counsel jobs and even many General Counsel jobs waiting to be filled, and by getting yourself in the job hunt you’ll get yourself closer to seeing what your skills and experience are worth. You may be surprise to find that you can command a better in-house counsel compensation package at another company, especially when the market is hot.

Get Our Newsletter To Stay Up To Date On Inhouse Counsel Salaries

Don’t forget to sign up to our free weekly newsletter to get updates on inhouse counsel salaries! We often feature articles relating to inhouse counsel salaries and in-house counsel job listings that may list their salary range in the job posting.

In addition, our newsletter features announcements of recent general counsel appointments and, with a little sleuthing and use of online tools, you may be able to find out what kinds of general counsel salaries these heavy-hitters might be taking home.


This is part of our How to Get an In-House Counsel Job series, which contains other articles that may interest you.


Check out our Inhouse Counsel Guides page for other articles and resources of interest.