How do we find out how much the highest-paid general counsel make? Public companies must disclose the compensation packages for their CEOs and their four other highest-paid executives in the annual proxy statements they file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We comb through Fortune 500 companies' proxies to compile our list. General counsel are often among the executives whose pay packages must be disclosed. We looked at all of these GCs' pay packages. Then we rank the 100 best-paid according to total cash compensation, which includes salary and bonus/nonequity incentive compensation. Here we rank the general counsel from the Fortune 500 who didn't make the top 100.
But while we do our best to find out what GCs make, it's important to note that our compensation survey is not exhaustive. Some well-paid top lawyers did not make our list simply because there were other executives who made more; if the GC wasn't among the top five, we don't have his or her compensation data. We miss other chief legal officers because of timing. If their company filed its proxy statement after June 1, we couldn't report it because of our publishing deadline. Plus, businesses that are in bankruptcy or have merged may not file proxies. And Fortune 500 corporations that are not publicly traded don't file proxy statements with the SEC.