Michael Corleone had a consigliere. Do general counsel in the Fortune 500 need one? Whether you need a wartime consigliere (negotiating a noisy withdrawal) or a peacetime consigliere (negotiating your compensation), you may want to call Christine Edwards. While some women and minority men have difficulty negotiating a fair compensation package, Edwards clearly does not. She was the first woman to break into Corporate Counsel‘s top ten list of 100 highest-paid GCs. As chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, she ranked number four in 1997 and number three in 1998 on Corporate Counsel‘s annual survey. (No woman entered the top ten after Edwards until Maura Abeln Smith of Owens Corning ranked number three in 2002.) Now a partner in Winston & Strawn’s corporate practice group, Edwards has identified four categories of mistakes that women make when negotiating compensation.

1. “Here’s what I made in my last position.” Your salary doesn’t depend on what you made in your last job, according to Edwards. It depends on the value you bring to the new organization.

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