Press Release

ALM’s Corporate Counsel Releases 2015 General Counsel Compensation Survey – Disney GC Tops List of High Earners

Annual survey of the biggest public companies reveals how much they pay their legal chiefs. And women are paid almost $200,000 less on average than their male counterparts.

New York, NY – July 15, 2015  Continuing the recent upward trend, GC pay packets got fatter last year as the lean years of the financial crisis faded even further into the past and the nation’s general counsel continued to gain increased responsibility and organizational clout. That is according to a survey of the 100 highest-salaried U.S. GCs in the August issue of ALM’s Corporate Counsel, the nation’s leading publication for general counsel and in-house attorneys. Highlights of the annual GC Compensation Survey are posted at

With earnings of $6,699,231 in total cash compensation, Alan Braverman, The Walt Disney Co.’s general counsel, topped the 2015 survey, which was conducted by Corporate Counsel affiliate ALM Legal Intelligence and based on publicly available information found in 2014 proxy filings.  This year’s survey of the best-paid 100 saw average total cash compensation increase by 6.2 percent, to $2,095,191, a very slight dip from the previous year, and a big improvement from recession years.

“The continued resurgence in GC pay is indicative of how vital the legal function is to the modern American corporation,” said Corporate Counsel editor-in-chief Anthony Paonita. “If the current trends identified in our survey hold, GCs will continue to become even bigger players in corporate strategy and risk management in the years to come.”

According to this year’s survey, stock options made a surprising comeback with the average stock awards received by GCs in 2014 increased by a staggering 49.4 percent, buoyed by a more confident stock market, as well as healthy company earnings. Gains were also stronger in another part of the pay package: bonuses plus non-equity compensation, which trended upward by an average of 9.2 percent in 2014.

The survey also took a look at how female general counsel fared last year. According to the 2015 analysis, it seems that gender equality in the GC’s office is getting slightly better over time, although women in the top 100 still made less total cash on average than men—$1,955,175 to their male counterparts’ $2,123,869. However, the survey revealed that just 17 of the top 100 GCs are women, zero are in the top 10 and just two appear in the top 20.

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