NEW YORK- LAWFUEL – Law News Network –July 17, 2006–ALM’s Corporate Counsel(R) magazine reported today that compensation for the top in-house lawyers at the nation’s largest corporations set new records last year. The magazine’s twelfth annual survey of the 100 best-paid chief legal officers in the U.S., published today, reveals that while salaries stayed flat at an average of $565,000, the average cash bonus and restricted stock grant received by the group approached $2 million. In addition, more than half of the group cashed in stock options in 2005, with an average gain of $3.1 million. In comparison, the average profit taken home last year by an Am Law 100(R) partner at the nation’s 100 top-grossing firms was $1.1 million. Complete survey results are available in the August issue of Corporate Counsel and on the Web at www.corpcounsel.com.
Benjamin Heineman, Jr., the recently retired legal chief of General Electric Company, once again topped the overall cash compensation list, with a salary and bonus of more than $5 million. But, Thomas Russo, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s vice-chairman and chief legal officer, took home a whopping $21.2 million last year, with $450,000 in salary, $4.6 million in bonus, and $16 million in stock option cash-ins.
Internet retailer IAC/InterActiveCorp’s GC, Gregory Blatt, made an impressive debut on this year’s list, with cash compensation of almost $2.5 million, plus an award of nearly $6 million in restricted stock grants, the largest on the ranking. Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s Donald de Brier received nearly $7.2 million in stock options in fiscal year 2005, while MGM Mirage’s Gary Jacobs got a sweet $5.5 million in options.
Not everyone received good news last year, however. Thomas Gottschalk at General Motors Corporation had the biggest drop on the rankings. He was the only member of the list who did not get a bonus last year and dropped more than 50 ranking places, from number 17 to number 71.
“These figures demonstrate the rich rewards available to those attorneys able to make the jump from law firm partner to the top in-house position,” said Robin Sparkman, editor in chief of the magazine. “The climbing compensation of GCs reflects their central role in areas ranging from M&A deals to corporate governance and regulatory affairs.”
While average salaries rose only one percent last year, bonuses increased by 16 percent to an average of $906,820 and restricted stock grants jumped by 35 percent to an average of $987,269. Although 73 percent of the GCs on the list received stock options last year, that number continued to decline due to changes in accounting rules, and the percentage of GCs receiving restricted stock grants climbed to 61 percent.
Corporate Counsel has ranked the nation’s 100 best-paid GCs since 1994. GCs are ranked based on publicly available cash compensation data drawn from examination of proxy statements for all Fortune 500 companies. Public companies must disclose pay packages for their CEOs and their four other highest-paid executives; in 2005, there were 196 GCs listed among their company’s top five earners. Survey data includes cash and bonus packages, as well as the value realized on stock cash-outs, to come up with a total take-home package. The list also provides GC equity, including restricted stock grants, option grants, and exercisable options.
The award-winning Corporate Counsel, the nation’s leading magazine for general counsel and in-house attorneys at corporations across the country, is published monthly by ALM and is available on the Web at www.corpcounsel.com.
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