Median Comp Declines for Most In-House Counsel

September 14, 2010 ( - Median U.S. chief legal officer total cash compensation (salaries plus bonuses) decreased by almost 4% this year to $466,800, according to the 2010 Law Department Compensation Benchmarking Survey by ALM Legal Intelligence.

While CLO median salaries and bonuses (for those receiving them) rose modestly, almost one quarter of the CLOs surveyed received no bonus this year.   

A press release said CLOs were among the six of nine in-house attorney job titles surveyed that saw total median cash compensation decline last year. However, the non-management attorney position was the only one of the nine to report a decrease in all three categories of compensation: salary (-5.36%) bonus (-4.46%), and total cash (-6.62%).   

Conversely, only three positions—division GC, high level specialist, and staff attorney reported increases in all three categories.  

Three of four management titles realized an increase in salary from last year, while only two of the five non-management positions reported increases in salary.  

According to the press release, intellectual property and employee benefits are the most lucrative areas of specialization, with these attorneys reporting total 2010 cash compensation of $240,000 and $238,500, respectively.  

The study analyzed compensation data for almost 5,300 lawyers in 208 corporate law departments across the country. For further information, or to purchase a copy of the survey, visit