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After a Decade, How Much Do In-House Attorneys Make?

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 28, 2013 10:10 AM

As we've learned from the annual ranking of the highest paid general counsel, going in-house can mean big money.

Last year, the highest paid lawyer in the U.S. was actually CBS General Counsel Louis Briskman. In 2011, Briskman's cash compensation was $6.5 million, and his total take home pay was over $14.6 million, Above the Law reports. In fact, all of the top 10 highest paid GCs cleared the $3 million mark in total pay. If you're dreaming of going in-house, these men and women will inspire you to think big.

But what about the experienced in-house attorneys who aren't quite up to the seven-figure salary? What do they earn?

We've previously discussed salaries for in-house counsel ranging from straight out of school to almost a decade in practice, but the bulk of a lawyer's career will be spent in the over-10-years-of-experience range. Let's discuss what those lawyers can expect to make.

For 2013, the Robert Half Legal 2013 Salary Guide predicts that licensed lawyers with 10 to 12 years' experience will make between $94,250 and $255,750 at law firms. Here are the breakdowns by firm size:

  • Large law firm (75+ attorneys): $168,250-$255,750
  • Midsize law firm (35-75 lawyers): $141,000-$236,500
  • Small/midsize law firm (10-35 lawyers): $118,500-$172,250
  • Small law firm (up to 10 lawyers): $94,250-$156,750

Midsize and small/midsize firm attorneys enjoyed the greatest salary increases for the year, seeing 4.1 percent and 3.9 percent changes, respectively.

In-house lawyers with the same amount of experience made between $134,500 and $235,500, a 3.9 percent change from 2012.

With top-earning in-house attorneys bringing in 92 percent of what their big law counterparts earn, going in-house still seems like a good bet.

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