ACC:  In-house legal professionals receiving higher pay in 2021 vs. 2020

Midmarket companies are paying in-house legal professionals higher salaries and more incentives this year than in 2020, according to a survey published by ACC.  

Survey also found that male CLOs earn $19,857 more than women CLOs on average, while women deputy GC earn $4,457 more than their male counterparts on average. Self-identified non-minority CLOs earn $42,135 more than their minority counterparts on average, while self-identified minority respondents earn more on average across the remaining positions listed.  

 The report  

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Empsight International present highlights from a compensation survey conducted among in-house legal professionals from April through June 2021. The results are based on 781 individuals derived from both self-reported and company-reported survey submissions. The vast majority of responses are based on positions within organisations over $1 billion in revenue. This year, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) helped collect additional data to increase the available insights among legal operations-specific positions. 

 “ACC’s partnership with Empsight has again resulted in the most comprehensive compensation survey for all positions in a law department available on the market today,” said Blake Garcia, ACC’s director of research. “With the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, and in the midst of a tremendous amount of employee transition, this survey is a valuable asset to help department leaders ensure that their compensation, retirement, and paid time off remain competitive to retain and attract top-level talent. I want to thank CLOC for their assistance as well in sharing the survey with their members to help provide a clearer picture for both in-house counsel and legal operations professionals.” 

“The hybrid data collection approach allows us to collect a significant amount of company sourced data from larger organisations, while also digging deeper into overall compensation packages for smaller companies as well,” said Jeremy Feinstein, managing director and co-founder, Empsight International. “With data covering every job title in a legal department, these survey results offer valuable insights to everyone in the in-house community. We thank ACC for their continued partnership on this project, and appreciate CLOC’s efforts to broaden the scope even further for legal operations professionals.” 

“Legal Operations has become indispensable to companies and as shown in the CLOC State of the Industry report and other recent studies, continues to be on the rise. The function is evolving rapidly from tactical to a strategic leadership role in legal departments across the industry. This report reinforces that,” said Mike Haven, CLOC President. “Though we still have work to do, it is encouraging to see competitive salaries and benefits in our space. These findings will empower legal operations professionals and recruiters to make more informed decisions in the hiring process.” 

Other highlights  
  • CLOs in multi-lawyer departments at companies between $1-2 Billion in revenue make 31% more in base salaries than in companies with $100 Million and below.  
  • 50% or more of the newly included positions within the legal operations job family are eligible for Short-Term Bonus Incentives.  
  • ‘Compensation competitiveness’ was the top-ranked issue of concern, followed by ‘work flexibility’ and ‘employee benefits.’ 
  • Professionals with 10 years of service receive an average of 19.9 paid vacation days annually, while executives have 20.3 days. 
  • 96.9% of companies offer defined contribution retirement plans, those in which an employee contributes money and their employer typically makes a matching contribution. 


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