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GC Compensation in 2011

Cash is King
While 2011 has been far cry from an economic recovery; chief legal officers have done pretty well for themselves, even making some modest gains according to the annual compensation survey conducted by Corporate CounselWhat is remaining steady is cold hard cash, in the form of base, and nonequity incentive compensation, which is tied to corporate performance goals. Gone are the bonuses GC’s got for just being there and performing well.  What is out?  Stock options continue to fall out of favor.

Women On Top
Who has gotten the biggest paycheck this year?   The top prize goes to a woman for the first time since Corporate Counsel started this survey, in 1994. Denise Keane, the top legal officer since 2007 at tobacco giant Altria Group, Inc., took home $6.5 million in total cash compensation. She is a not alone, in-house woman counsels are for the most part continuing to make steady progress in terms of compensation.

Company Performance Dictates
GC compensation is based on 2 sets of requirements: individual performance and company performance.  The success of in-house counsels is directly tied to that of the company they serve.  Therefore, they really have to contribute to the bottom line if they want to improve their own take home pay.  Choice of company and industry has never been more crucial for on-house counsels looking to make a transition.  The top performers in this year’s list tend to be clustered in the tobacco, oil, and entertainment industries.

The Top 10 Money Makers

1.    Denise KeaneAltria Group, Inc. (Total cash: $6.4M)

2.    Donald De BrierOccidental Petroleum Corporation (Total cash: $5.9M)

3.    Russel DeyoJohnson & Johnson (Total cash: $4.9M)

4.    Thomas McCoyAdvances Microdevices, Inc. (Total cash: $4.6M)

5.    Louis BriskmanCBS Corporation (Total cash: $4.2M)

6.    Paul CapuccioTime Warner (Total cash: $4.2M)

7.    Alan BravemanWalt Disney Company (Total cash: $4.1M)

8.    David BernickPhilip Morris International, Inc. (Total cash: $3.6M)

9.    Michael FricklasViacom Inc. (Total cash: $3.0M)

10.    Alan SchnitzerThe Traveler’s Companies, Inc. (Total cash: $2.8M)

To see a complete list of the Top 100 Best Paid GC’s, click here.

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