Law Firm GC Position Well Established and Well Paid

(NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA, April 29, 2008) — The 2008 Altman Weil Flash Survey on Law Firm General Counsel has just been released.  The survey, canvassing large US law firms in the AmLaw 200, reports that 85% of responding firms have a designated general counsel – a number that has held steady since the last survey was conducted in 2006.

“The 2008 survey shows that the GC position is solidly established in the vast majority of major US law firms,” according to Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.

As in prior years, 100% of the designated law firm general counsel are in-house.  Eighty-two percent are partners in the firm.  Eighty-three percent come from a litigation background – which is “appropriate for their risk management role,” notes Bower. 

Compensation for the in-house General Counsel position is up significantly since 2006.  Full time GCs (almost 40% of those reporting) take home just over $750,000 per year in total cash compensation on average, up 34% from 2006.  Those who hold the role part-time earn $665,000 per year, up 9%.

“These compensation levels affirm the importance attached to the General Counsel position in law firms,” Bower adds.  “And it’s not surprising that many are full time, as would be the case in any business the size of these law firms.”

Although the large majority of law firm GCs are partners, only 22% serve on the firm’s governing committee, down from 28% in 2006. “This probably reflects the need for the GC to establish client privilege in representing the firm and its management group,” according to Bower. 

Law firm General Counsel serve in a wide variety of roles, including advising firm management (96%); engaging outside counsel (96%); handling professional responsibility issues including conflicts and client privilege (94%); and addressing general liability issues, professional liability issues, as well as representing the firm in disputes (each 92%).  When asked which areas of responsibility were of greatest importance to the firm, professional liability and professional responsibility were tied for the top rating.

About the Survey
Survey data was collected in February and March 2008 from AmLaw 200 law firms, with 44% participating (86 of the 195 firms solicited).  A full report of the tabulated data appears on the Altman Weil website at

About Altman Weil
Founded in 1970, Altman Weil, Inc. is dedicated exclusively to the legal profession.  It provides management consulting services to law firms, law departments and legal vendors worldwide.   The firm is independently owned by its professional consultants, who have backgrounds in law, industry, finance, marketing, administration and government.   More information on Altman Weil can be found at

Contact Information

Ward Bower
Altman Weil, Inc.
(610) 886-2021

Download the full survey report.
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