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Some GC Bonuses Dwarf Am Law 100 Profits Per Partner

A few months back, 19 Am Law 100 law firms celebrated $2 million profits per partner for 2007. Gosh, those numbers seem like small potatoes now, at least in comparison to the record pay and stock grants that Chief Legal Officers (CLO's) enjoyed during the same time frame, according to Corporate Counsel's annual survey of general counsel compensation.

Consider Gary Lynch, the CLO for Morgan Stanley who snagged a $6.3 million bonus, earning him the number 2 slot on the list. But these huge bonuses aren't reserved just for those at the very top of the list.  Overall, bonuses and non-equity incentive compensation jumped 17 percent to $1.1 million, double the average CLO salary of $503,545. 

But with the economy on the decline, will the good times last?  Joel Henning, a senior vice president and head of Hildebrandt International's Chicago office says that it's too soon to tell how the economy will impact GC salaries.   And indeed, though many banks or financial companies struggled last year under the weight of decreased earnings or financial scandals, their GCs still topped the compensation list.  In addition to Lynch's $6.3 million bonus, take a look at these numbers:

Carrie Dwyer at Charles Schwab Corp. and Thomas Russo at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. both got sizable nonequity incentive compensation. Dwyer pulled in an extra $2.7 million, a 112 percent increase over the year before. That brought her total cash compensation to $3.2 million, and she jumped to the 11th spot on this year's list, up from 26th place in last year's survey. While Lehman Brothers has been struggling, Russo's compensation held steady. He took home the same incentive compensation he did the year before: $4.6 million. That brought his total cash compensation to $5 million. He also made $5.4 million by selling stock, although his total compensation was 43 percent less than the $9.5 million he made the year before.

While top GCs earn more than most law firm partners, there's one question that remains unanswered: Who works harder for their money?  If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comment section below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 23, 2008 at 08:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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