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Friday News Round-Up: Brexit and Salaries Are Top of Mind

T hough 2018 has ended, many of last year’s uncertainties, such as the implications of Brexit and the persistence of the gender pay gap, have crept into 2019. Fortunately, general counsel are forging a way ahead.

GCs can lead outside counsel to increase diversity and narrow pay gaps

At a November 2018 LegalWeek Connect conference in London, Serco GC David Eveleigh, together with Barclays' head of external engagement, Stephanie Hamon, encouraged GCs to drive diversity at their outside counsel. Eveleigh stated that last year he told one law firm's senior partner that if it did not include partners in its gender pay gap reporting, Serco would no longer turn it for legal work. The law firm subsequently complied.

Brexit headaches for GCs in Northern Ireland

With fewer than 100 days before Brexit — Britain's departure from the European Union — in-house counsel in Northern Ireland gathered over the summer of 2018 to grapple with Brexit’s ramifications on their companies. Key issues for which to prepare include contracts, immigration, intellectual property rights, data protection, and financial regulations. Lexology has launched "Brexit Business Briefs" to tackle the changes.

GC salary levels rising in 2019

Salaries for in-house counsel in China tend to rival levels in the West, according to a May 2018 survey conducted by Major, Lindsey & Africa. The average salary for a mid-level counsel, with five to eight years of experience, in a business in China ranges from about US$94,500 to US$190,000. Senior counsel, with nine to 15 years of experience, earn about US$140,000 to US$267,000. Salaries for GCs with 15 or more years of experience start around US$200,000.

ACC Compensation Report reveals highest paying industries for GCs in the United States

The ACC 2018 Compensation Report shows that the highest-earning general counsel are found in the biotechnology and life sciences, followed by the technical research and the development sectors. While compensation varies depending on seniority, experience, and tenure, the data show dramatically higher total compensation for GCs in these sectors:

Graph indicating the most profitable industries for in-house counsel

Women’s pay lags, but gap is narrowing

In the United States, women GCs earn significantly less than men, but the gender compensation gap among new graduates is smaller than in previous years, ACC's report reveals. Even accounting for seniority and experience, men earn a median of US$270,000 in total compensation compared with US$210,000 for females.

Expats earn more than their local in-house peers

According to the aforementioned ACC survey, two percent of respondents worked outside of their native country. The median total compensation for those working abroad is substantially higher than that of respondents working in their home country. The data indicate that expatriates earn about US$252,000, on average, compared to their colleagues who are working in their native countries, who earn US$204,000.

Publicly traded companies pay significantly more than private companies

ACC's survey also shows that the median total compensation for GCs is significantly higher in public companies (US$399,000) than in private companies (US$225,000).

About the Author

Wendy R. Leibowitz is a freelance contributor. Her work has appeared in the National Law Journal, American Lawyer Register, and Chronicle of Higher Education.

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