Corporate Lawyer Salary

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Corporate Lawyer Salary

These days, most business firms pay high and in some instances, outrageous salaries to their employees who take care of their legal matters. Learn more about the median salaries received by corporate lawyers in the following CareerStint article.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions for lawyers are expected to rise by about 10% by the year 2022. However, as the number of students graduating from law schools will be greater than the number of jobs available, there will be a tough competition for jobs.

The job of a corporate lawyer is of utmost significance to a firm, as the individual is entrusted with all legal activities of the firm. He/she advises his/her employers on their legal obligations, and judicial rights and privileges. To deal with the firm’s criminal as well as civil cases, he represents the company in the court of law. The legality of all commercial transactions of an establishment are ensured by him. Large law firms (multinational corporations) hire corporate lawyers as full-time employees. Corporate lawyers also work for various types of other multinational companies. There are self-employed lawyers too, who advise and cater to the legal requirements of several corporate clients. Looking at how important the job is, the amount of salaries these professionals earn is always on the higher side.

Factors Determining the Salary

Just to give you an overview of salaries, the annual wage of a corporate lawyer ranges between US $55,400-$172,540, and the average salary is approximately, US $114,970.

But this does not give a clear picture, as the average itself is of a wide range depending on many factors. Experience is the most vital factor in resolving the salary. No firm would want to hire a rookie to handle fragile legal matters. Only those lawyers with many years of experience are given a high priority in handling these matters. Another factor is education, training, and specialty of the lawyer. A lawyer who has done corporate specific training is always in high demand, rather than a lawyer who has worked exclusively in criminal or civil cases only. Taking these and a few more factors into consideration, we will take a look at the corporate layer salary range that is prevalent these days.

Work Experience
As said earlier, experience can be the single biggest adjudicating factor, which decides the salary. According to PayScale, the lawyers with less than one year of experience can claim salary of US $52,567 – $163,884. Those at mid-career level can command annual salaries between US $71,677 – $203,117 per year. Well experienced corporate lawyers can fetch US $81,126 – $249,492 per year. Highly experienced lawyers, i.e., those with an experience higher than 20/25 years can get paid up to US $335,378.

Education and Training
To pursue a career as a corporate lawyer, three years of law school, leading to a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement. Following this, law students need to take core grades in taxing and insurance law, corporate law, and trusts. However, the candidates who wish to specialize in corporate law also need to choose relevant elective subjects such as commercial transactions, trade regulations, creditors’ rights, and trial advocacy. To work in a state, law school graduates need to register with the bar council of that particular state. Admission to the bar council, in most states, needs passing in an entrance exam. Corporate lawyers with a JD (Juris Doctor) degree or LLM, reportedly earned higher salaries than lawyers with a Bachelor’s degree.

Some firms do not require much legal tending, and hence, do not wish to spend a huge amount on a hired legal adviser. Moreover, the specialization that such firms ask for, may not be as high as some other companies which have frequent skirmishes with the law. Lawyers with private practices are also well paid. Lawyers working in the private sector, especially as corporate counsel, can earn much higher salaries than those working for the state/federal government or for non-profit organizations. The employer status or repute is another determining factor in the salary earned. Many firms hiring legal advisers offer additional benefits such as 401 (k), life insurance, paid sick leave, cell phone, stock options, which prove to be icing on the cake. One of the most important benefits is paid vacation, through which a senior corporate lawyer may get anything between US $60K-$200K annually. According to the BLS data (May 2014) the top paying industries for this occupation were Industrial Machinery Manufacturing (average mean annual wage $209,730) and Metalworking Machinery Manufacturing (average mean annual wage $202,480). Among the top five industries, relatively more number of jobs were available in the ‘Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage’ industry, and the average mean salary offered was around $200K. Corporate lawyers in other ‘Information Services’ also got around $200K p.a.

Place of Practice
One other factor which has a bearing on the salary is the state and city where the firm/company is located. According to the BLS data, the top-paying states for this occupation were District of Columbia ($168,740), California ($158,200), New York ($154,340), Delaware ($145,940), and Massachusetts ($144,030). New York (New York), Los Angeles (California), Chicago (Illinois), and Houston (Texas) are worth exploring for a hard-working and ambitious corporate lawyers.

So to conclude, we can say that the job of a corporate lawyer is surely one of the most coveted and a respected one in the society. This can be further reflected by the salary figures illustrated above.

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