Inhouse Counsel Salaries – 2020 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 2020 Inhouse Counsel Salaries Guide

Robert Half Legal has released its latest report which contains data on projected inhouse counsel salaries for 2020. 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 “new to the role”, “still developing their skills” and whose role may be “at a smaller organization or one with few business units”.  In contrast, a number in the 95th percentile might be for a candidate who has “a high-level of relevant experience”, a role that is “uniquely complex”, or “at a larger organization or one with multiple business units or complex operations”.

Using these percentage tiers, Robert Half Legal’s guide shows an inhouse counsel salaries range of $137,250 to $315,750 for a General Counsel from the 25th percentile to the 95th percentile, $119,750 to $264,000 for an in-house counsel with 10+ years experience from the 25th percentile to the 95th percentile, $80,750 to $199,000 for an in-house counsel for an in-house counsel with 4-9 years experience from the 25th percentile to the 95th percentile, and $67,750 to $176,500 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.

Barker & Gilmore’s 2019 In-House Counsel Compensation Report

Barker & Gilmore’s In-House Counsel Compensation Report for 2019 is available online. Barker & Gilmore found that:

“…in-house counsel reported unprecedented rates of compensation satisfaction, with over 62% of lawyers unlikely to look for a new job and almost 60% believing their compensation is appropriate in comparison to peers. Our search consultants and advisors observe this contentedness in the market daily…organizations have made compensation packages more compelling and use counter offers to retain high-performers tempted to leave…The legal world today has largely become a candidate-driven market where top attorneys have multiple career options…Because of this, the price of top legal talent increased significantly in 2018 and shows signs of continuing through 2019

Barker & Gilmore also reflected on the hot nature of the in-house legal market:

“The legal world today has largely become a candidate-driven market where top attorneys have multiple career options. Even law firms are experiencing a higher level of career satisfaction, offering mentoring opportunities, higher salaries, better work-life balance, and providing other benefits to enhance retention. Because of this, the price of top legal talent increased significantly in 2018 and shows signs of continuing through 2019. In a highly competitive market, law departments seeking to fill key positions need to find ways to communicate more compelling reasons for someone to join their organization in addition to offering compensation packages that surpass the current medians. ”

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.


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