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Companies Cut Corporate Counsel Compensation

By Kevin Fayle on June 16, 2009 3:19 PM

Yesterday I wrote about a recent survey that showed that in house counsel were generally quite satisfied with their careers.  That trend might change rapidly, however, given the results of a new study that reveals how corporate counsel compensation has cratered recently.

According to the post in the InHouse Insider Blog, companies have begun cutting benefits like 401k matching contributions and stock options.  Also on the chopping block are bonuses, which are tied for the most part to the company's performance.  In a down economy, that means that bonuses will be small or nonexistent. 
The author of the piece theorizes that, since law firms have begun dropping their associates' salaries, legal departments no longer feel the need to keep their compensation packages competitive in order to attract the best attorneys.  To back this up, the author cites figures showing that "[a]t the end of 2008, 29% of law department at companies with revenues of at least $1 billion said they planned to cut lawyer compensation. Compensation package decreases have ranged between 15-25% in 2009."

That's a big hit for in house attorneys who already make less than their BigLaw counterparts.  Combined with the rise in legal department layoffs, it also means that in house attorneys now have a lot more work to do, for a lot less money.
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