10 Amazing New Facts About General Counsel

LawGeex has just launched The 2019 General Counsel Landscape. In association with the Association of Corporate Counsel, this unprecedented 30-page analysis is the first-ever in-depth audit of the General Counsel position in the United States.

Based on an analysis of more than 34,000 GC profiles on LinkedIn here are 10 amazing new facts about this central business role.

1. GCs now have executive titles 

Some 27 percent of general counsel in the Fortune 500  hold the position of executive vice president, while 26 percent are senior vice presidents. This reflects a new reality with the GC a strategic leader, in a period when 64 percent of GCs report directly to the CEO.

2. California sunniest spot for GCs

California is the top state for general counsel, home to 13 percent of all GCs in the United States. Here, GCs are serving a myriad of companies challenging the status quo, not least within the San Francisco Bay area and Silicon Valley, where a large number of Fortune 1000 companies, including eBay, PayPal, Wells Fargo, Gap, and Salesforce, are based. Second-placed New York is also a GC hub, accounting for about one in ten of the GC population.

3. Expertise in antitrust and trade regulation pays most

GCs that have experience in antitrust and trade regulation get paid at least $672,270. For a full list and graphics of pay according to the sector you work in, skills you have, number of people you manage, and year graduated, see the full report.

4. Only 7% of top GCs come from law firms

Only seven percent of Fortune 500 GCs were formerly partners at a law firm, showing the partner route as an increasingly unlikely road to becoming a GC. High-profile exceptions include Amazon GC David Zapolsky, who left a partner position at a large firm (Dorsey and Whitney LLP) to join Amazon as an associate general counsel, Avery Fischer at Ralph Lauren (who left Kelley Drye & Warren LLP after five years as partner), and Timothy S. Teter, who became GC of NVIDIA after 20 years as a partner at Cooley. 

5. Women Make Up 31 Percent of the GC Population

Women make up 31 percent of the US general counsel population. The implications of this imbalance are assessed in detail in a section of the report entitled Gender and the GC revealing the latest hiring patterns and pipeline initiatives to ensure a more diverse GC population.

6. But males are paid an average of 39% more 

Men who are General Counsel earn an average of $453,625 a year in the position, compared to women GCs, receiving $326,477.

7. Three percent of GCs have MBAs

Three percent of all GCs have an MBA, which can be a faster route for talent to gain vital business skills and secure a top role. For instance, at 37, Diana Toman became SVP and GC at Compass Minerals, a publicly traded US$1.4 billion essential minerals group. She gained an MBA while at her first in-house role and says: “It enabled me to learn key business principles so I could better support my internal clients by building a bridge between legal and business concepts. As I had never had any type of finance or accounting course, it was also very important for me to learn how to read financial statements and understand accounting terms particularly as I became responsible for our SEC disclosures.”

8. 29% of GCs are baby boomers

Some 29% of GCs are aged over 55, making up a sizeable proportion of the GC population. The full report dissects the hiring patterns as this mainly male cohort retires from the top legal roles at the leading American companies. 

9. Management is top skill 

Management skills are cited by 53% of all GCs as a core skill on their LinkedIn profile, followed by litigation (47%), corporate law (41%) and legal writing (35%).

10. Finance attracts more US GCs than any other industry

Some 17% percent of all GCs have landed a job in the highly-regulated industry followed by the government sector (where 10% of all GCs work), technology companies (10%), and manufacturing (10%).

Check out the full 30-page report for full data, graphics interviews, and analysis on:

  • The Anatomy of a General Counsel
  • The Fortune 500 GC 
  • Gender and the GC 
  • GC Compensation
  • The GC Reborn: The New Skills of the General Counsel
  • The New Strategic Leader

Download here



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