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Corporate in-house attorneys are paid 22 percent less than comparably experienced associates at law firms, according to a national survey of in-house lawyers. But unlike law firm associates, corporate counsels seem pretty confident about their job security. Staff attorneys with eight years of experience had an average base salary of $93,180 in 2000, compared with $120,000 for associates at law firms with similar longevity, according to the Washington, D.C.-based American Corporate Counsel Association. The median base salary in 2000 for all corporate lawyers was $119,000, and their median total compensation package was $131,510, the association found. The survey respondents were optimistic about job stability at their companies. More than half of the U.S.-based attorneys said they foresee no change in 2002 in the size of their legal departments. More than one-quarter think their employers will increase the number of attorneys in their offices, while less than 10 percent think they will have fewer attorneys this year. The findings come from a survey the ACCA sent last summer to 12,674 corporate attorneys; 929 were returned, for a 7.3 percent return rate. About 15 percent of the responses came from lawyers in an Atlantic region made up of Florida and several other states. There are more than 65,000 corporate attorneys in the United States, representing more than 21,000 corporations, according to the association. As for job perks, nearly 90 percent said they receive a cash bonus, about half said they get stock options, and almost one in four say they receive deferred compensation. About one in six said they are provided a company automobile. While pay is lower for corporate lawyers than for law firm associates, they have some quality of life advantages, said Frederick Krebs, president of the American Corporate Counsel Association. In-house counsel have more control over their time, are able to address issues proactively and tend to work in a more team-oriented environment than outside counsel, he said. “In many ways, it’s what I’d call a saner environment,” Krebs said. Corporations are especially attractive to women and minorities, Krebs said, because they generally have a better record of hiring and promoting each group, and working mothers like the more regular hours of corporate law. Almost one-third of corporate lawyers responding to the survey were women, and about one-eighth were minorities. Nationally, almost 30 percent of lawyers are women, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. No data are available yet on minority lawyers. Regardless of race or sex, the typical corporate lawyer who responded to the survey has practiced law for nearly 15 years and has worked in-house for more than nine years. Their employers have median gross revenues of almost $2.4 billion, with about 6,400 employees. Their corporation’s legal budget last year was nearly $2 million, with $400,000 of that earmarked for outside counsel and $490,000 for litigation. Corporate lawyers are employed in a wide range of industries. Twenty-seven percent said they work in manufacturing, 19 percent are in finance and insurance, 8 percent are employed by information companies, and one-third work in “other” industries. The most common practice disciplines are corporate transactions (15 percent), generalist (14 percent), intellectual property (13 percent) and commercial/contracts (11 percent). Survey respondents were asked to choose from a list of five descriptions the one or more roles that best described the general counsel role in their organizations. Three-quarters picked “trusted adviser,” followed by about three-fifths who said “manager.”

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