Salary benchmarking for in-house legal

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How much does a general counsel make?

Whether you're deciding to apply for a new position, or adding a new role to your team it's important to look at impartial and accurate data on salaries, so you're putting your best foot forward in the war for talent. 

With this in mind, we’ve collated base salary benchmarks for in-house teams from resources collated from a range of independent sources. Compare the average salary of newly qualified (NQ) and general counsel salaries to chief legal officer salaries in the UK, US and Canada, France, Germany and Australia. 

The tables below break down the salaries of the average in-house lawyer salaries, which vary based on factors such as geographical location, role and experience.

Base salaries for in-house legal roles in the US and Canada

Typically, the US presents a higher starting salary across the in-house legal profession. The general counsel salary in NYC is around $20,000 higher than in Los Angeles, averaging at $338,353 compared to New York’s $352,838. These figures do not include the average additional cash compensation for general counsel roles.

Corporate and commercial roles Salary range ($)
1-3 years’ PQE 120,000 - 190,000
4-6 years’ PQE 180,000 - 240,000
6-10 years’ PQE 190,000 - 280,000
10+ years’ PQE 220,000 +
Head of Legal 250,000 +
General Counsel 300,000 +

Base salaries for in-house legal and legal ops roles in UK

Salaries in the UK vary depending on the company, location and size of the in-house legal team. For example, the average general counsel salary in London is £204,798 per annum, higher than the average salary range for this role. 

While those starting out as legal operation analysts in Manchester can expect to earn around £33,754 a year. See the table below to explore the full range of in-house legal team salaries in the UK.

Corporate and commercial roles Salary range (£)
NQ 50,000 - 65,000
1-2 years’ PQE 60,000 - 80,000
3-4 years’ PQE 70,000 - 90,000
5-6 years’ PQE 80,000 - 100,000
7-8 years’ PQE 85,000 - 120,000
9-10 years’ PQE 90,000 - 135,000
10+ years’ PQE 100,000 - 140,000
Head of Legal / Director 100,000 - 175,000 +
General Counsel 150,000 - 275,000
Chief Legal Officer 250,000 - 300,000

Legal operations roles Salary range (£)
Legal Operations Analyst 35,000 - 40,000
Legal Operations Assistant 50,000 - 65,000
Legal Operations Manager 75,000 - 100,000
Head of Legal Operations 100,000 - 130,000

Base salaries for in-house legal roles in France

In France, the general counsel salary depends on similar factors to those listed above. It is worth noting that the average salary for general counsel in Paris is €145,479 a year, with an additional €18,346 - €27,250 in cash compensation bringing the salary total to that listed in the table.

Corporate and commercial roles Salary range (€)
NQ 35,000 +
1-2 years’ PQE 35,000 - 45,000
3-4 years’ PQE 46,000 - 56,000
5-7 years’ PQE 56,000 - 80,000
8-9 years’ PQE 81,000 - 100,000
10+ years’ PQE 101,000 +
Head of Legal / Director 120,000 +
General Counsel 160,000 +

Base salaries for in-house legal roles in Germany

The average legal director salary in Germany is currently €133,243 inclusive of cash bonus, commission and profit sharing. The table below breaks down the salary range for a variety of in-house roles and experience levels.

Roles Salary range (€)
Legal Counsel (1-3 years’ PQE) 60,500 - 90,000
Senior Legal Counsel (4+ years’ PQE) 84,000 - 109,000
Legal Team Lead 111,500 - 120,000
Head of Legal 120,200 - 137,000
Legal Director 149,500
General Counsel 161,400

Base salaries for in-house legal roles in Australia

As in the US, the average salary range for in-house counsel is higher in Australia, with newly qualified lawyers starting out as high as AU$90,000 in Sydney. General counsel roles in Brisbane have an average salary of AU$225,000 while a GC in Melbourne could earn as much as AU$240,000. It could be worth relocating!

Corporate and commercial roles Salary range (AU$)
NQ 80,000 - 90,000
1-2 years’ PQE 95,000 - 120,000
3-4 years’ PQE 130,000 - 180,000
5-6 years’ PQE 150,000 - 220,000
7-8 years’ PQE 180,000 - 235,000
9-10 years’ PQE 185,000 - 240,000
10+ years’ PQE 225,000 +
Head of Legal / Director 240,000 +
General Counsel 245,000 +

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