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General Counsel Pay Increases in 2012

The Association of Corporate Counsel released figures that show general counsel base salaries increased even though bonuses dropped over the past year, according to The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel.

Top lawyers at 190 companies that have average revenues of $31.7 billion were surveyed in the 2012 Large Law Department Compensation Survey. Some of the companies that took part in the survey include The Coca-Cola Company, Nike Inc., Time Warner Inc. and Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

The base salaries for general counsel rose by 1.9 percent from $557,112 in 2011 to $567,924 in 2012. On average, annual cash bonuses dropped by 7.9 percent. In 2011, an average cash bonus was $590,040 and that number dropped to $543,109 in 2012.

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Over the past year, total compensation for general counsel dropped by 2.2 percent. In 2012, general counsel at these companies in the survey made a total of $1,122,834. In 2011, the total for general counsel was $1,148,313.

Veta Richardson, the CEO and president of ACC, said, “The lion’s share of compensation, year by year, is at risk, meaning that it’s tied to the performance of the company and performance by the individual executive.”

The average target incentive for 2012 came in at 73.9 percent, which is a decrease from 76.5 percent in 2011. Richardson also said “that a significant opportunity exists to be paid based upon performance and delivering results in furtherance of the corporate objective and what it says to me is that these general counsel, as a whole, were highly regarded by their corporations to achieve bonus levels of three quarters of base salary.”

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