Bonuses, In-House Counsel, Money

In-House Counsel Salaries Might Not Be Frozen, But They Are Certainly Flat

pyramid scheme capstone small.jpgCorporations are so busy reducing the amount of money they spend on outside counsel that it’s easy to overlook the fact that they are also reducing the money they spend on in-house counsel. Well, it’s easy to overlook the fact if you are not in-house.

But a new survey reports that in-house lawyers are feeling the salary pinch along with their firm-based colleagues. The ABA Journal reports:

Lauren Chung, director of the Hildebrandt survey, told the ABA Journal that the frugal approach extends to compensation for in-house lawyers.

“Do I think that lawyers overall are making less?” Chung said. “They’re not getting the increases that they had been enjoying for the past several years. Every year they were almost guaranteed an increase. This year we see very clearly that is not the norm anymore.”

Of course, in-house lawyers aren’t exactly crying poverty. Their salary, even without the yearly raise, is still pretty good.

Check out just how good it is after the jump.

Overall, in-house attorneys are still making a whole bunch of money:

The average total cash compensation–base salary plus cash bonuses–was $229,000 for in-house lawyers in March 2009, down from $236,000 reported in a March 2008 survey. The apparent drop in year-over-year numbers could be misleading, however, because additional companies responded to this year’s survey.

And most of their weekend work involves calling to make sure outside counsel are working on the weekend!

But hey, it’s not all milk and honey being in-house. There could still be layoffs (and/or longer hours for those who don’t get laid off):

The survey received 231 responses representing 21 industries and 22 percent of the Fortune 500 list. The Intelligencer and a Hildebrandt press release reported these findings:
–Eighteen percent of the respondents anticipated a decrease in the number of in-house lawyers in their departments, while 30 percent expected an increase. The numbers reflect a cost-reduction strategy of bringing more work inside that had been done by outside counsel, according to the press release.

This should go without saying, but if you have the opportunity to go in-house, you should probably consider it. If you already are in-house, congratulations. Salary flatness > forced attrition.

In-House Pay Hikes Tamped Down in Legal Cost-Cutting Efforts [ABA Journal]
Earlier: In-House Lawyers Have Their Own Problems, Citigroup Says

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