This year’s list of the highest-paid general counsel at Pennsylvania-based public companies looked quite a bit different from last year’s, with several new names in the mix and a lot of movement among the familiar faces as average cash compensation dropped in 2017 following a bump in 2016.
In 2016, total cash compensation—salary, bonus and nonequity incentive plan compensation—among Pennsylvania GCs rose by 16.3 percent, from an average of $704,000 to $818,444. But in 2017, that number dipped by 8.5 percent to $748,881.
Average salary inched down about 3 percent, from $427,577 in 2016 to $415,056 in 2017. But the total cash decrease appeared to be the result of sharp drops in average bonus and nonequity compensation. In 2017, the average bonus dropped roughly 71 percent to about $42,000 from $145,808 in 2016 and nonequity compensation dropped 27 percent, from $401,135 to $291,769.
Total compensation—total cash plus stock and option awards, change in pension value and other forms of compensation—also decreased in 2017 after rising the previous year. In 2016, the average payout more than doubled from the previous year to $3.1 million. But for the 27 general counsel ranked in 2017, average total compensation came in at just over $1 million, due in large part to much smaller gains in pension value. In 2016, the average change in pension value was $302,145. In 2017, it was just under $30,000.
As always, it must be noted that chief legal officers of public companies report their annual compensation only if they are among the five highest paid executives in their company in a given year, meaning rankings can change substantially year to year, with high-ranked GCs falling off the list by virtue of not having to report that year.
This year’s rankings included many of the same GCs who were on the 2016 list, though none retained their previous spot, as well as several new names.
The Top 10
The No. 1 spot this year went to Andrea Utecht, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of FMC Corp. She was ranked ninth last year year, with total cash compensation of $1,040,074. In 2017, Utecht’s total cash compensation grew to $1,451,967, propelling her to the top of the list.
Stephen Reynolds, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Aramark Holdings Corp. climbed up the rankings to second place this year, with total cash compensation of $1,092,753. But Reynolds’ ascent reflects the overall drop in GC pay this year: He ranked seventh last year even though his total cash compensation was actually slightly higher, at $1,109,503.
Just behind Reynolds at No. 3 this year, John Chou, executive vice president and chief legal & business officer of AmerisourceBergen, took home total cash compensation of $1,089,898. Last year, Chou was ranked at No. 8, with total cash compensation of $1,067,687.
Coming in at No. 4 this year was Edward Hoffman, senior executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Radian Group, with total cash compensation of $1,060,625, climbing from No. 10 last year, when his total cash was $987,500.
The No. 5 spot saw this year’s first newcomer to the top 10: Carl Sottosanti, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Penn National Gaming, saw total cash compensation in 2017 of $1,053,107. Last year, Sottosanti ranked 13th, with $824,831 in total cash.
Herman Fala, general counsel of Liberty Property Trust, also broke the top 10 this year, rising from No. 11 to No. 6, with total cash compensation of $996,120. Last year, Fala’s total cash compensation was $923,454.
At No. 7 this year was a newcomer to both the top 10 and the overall list: Katherine Ramundo, who in late 2016 became executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary of Arconic, formerly Alcoa Inc. Ramundo took home total cash compensation of $931,755 in 2017.
Lewis Gardner, general counsel and vice president of external affairs at EQT Corp., also moved into the top 10 last year, up to No. 8 from No. 12 In 2017, Gardner’s total cash compensation was $847,212. Like Reynolds of Aramark, Gardner’s rise in the rankings belied a slight drop in total cash from last year, when he took home $875,501.
Russell Hochman, senior vice president and general counsel, chief compliance officer and corporate secretary of Harsco Corp., moved up to No. 9 from No. 24 last year, with total cash compensation of $827,196, up from $542,938 in 2016.
But this year’s biggest leap up the chart belonged to Andrew Sutor IV, executive vice president, secretary & general counsel of Entercom Communications Corp., who moved up from No. 30 last year to No. 10 this year. Sutor’s total cash compensation in 2017 was $793,750, up from $408,350.