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Economy Hits GC Pay, Too

In good times or bad, general counsel compensation has tended to drift upward, notes the introduction to Corporate Counsel magazine's 2009 GC Compensation Survey. But this year, even GC were not immune to market forces, the survey finds. While some indexes of GC pay rose, the basic trend was nearly flat, it concludes.

But let's not shed tears for our brothers and sisters who work in-house. Overall, the general counsel of the nation's largest companies still managed to get a modest raise. "Modest" is Corporate Counsel's descriptor, not mine. When one starts from an average earning base of over $1 million, modesty is a matter of perspective. Consider that the year's average bonus was $1.16 million and the average salary was $596,393. That means GC earned a total average cash payout of $1.8 million. Certainly, that would be enough to make me blush.

Notably, the year's top earner -- at $9.7 million -- was not a top legal officer. In fact, he no longer even works for the company that so richly rewarded him. He is Gregory Doody, an expert in bankruptcy law hired by the Calpine Corp. in 2006 as its chief restructuring officer tasked with leading the company out of bankruptcy. His efforts earned him a cash bonus this year of $9.4 million. But Doody left Calpine after a new CEO came on board.

Other richly rewarded GC at the top of this year's chart include Donald Rosenberg of Qualcomm, whose salary and bonus added up to $9.68 million; Brackett Denniston III of General Electric Co., who received a $5.9 million bonus and earned $121,000 from stock on top of his $1.2 million salary; Charles Wall of Philip Morris International, who took home $8.4 million; and Alan Braverman of The Walt Disney Co., with salary and bonus totaling $4 million.

So if it was not the best of years for general counsel, it certainly was not the worst of years. Did the economy pinch their paychecks? Sure, but with that much fat in their pay, they probably never felt a thing.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 21, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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