Press Release

Corporate Counsel Finds 2012 General Counsel Compensation Turnaround: Every Pay Category Rose, Stock Awards Jumped 64.8%

Corporate Counsel Finds 2012 General Counsel Compensation Turnaround: Every Pay Category Rose, Stock Awards Jumped 64.8%

NEW YORK – July 17, 2013 – Following across-the-board declines in 2011, average general counsel compensation rebounded strongly last year in every category, 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

The most dramatic jump was in stock awards, which soared an average 64.8 percent to $2,350,219 in 2012, compared to a 10.9 percent decline the previous year. A big chunk of the swing can be attributed to Apple Inc.’s Bruce Sewell, who scored a whopping $66,571,750 stock grant. Straight stock option awards, which are not tied to performance, rose 21 percent last year to $888,313.

“Apple is an extreme example of a broad shift to equity compensation that is aimed at aligning pay with performance,” said Corporate Counsel Editor in Chief Anthony Paonita

Total cash compensation to the top 100 GCs averaged an increase of 6.7 percent to $1,853,671. General Electric Company’s Brackett Denniston III led this category at $10.9 million. Even base salaries, the most stable compensation component, jumped 7.4 percent to $656,607 in 2012, after a 1.8 percent dip the previous year.

Traditional discretionary bonuses made a dramatic comeback last year, surging 50 percent to $1,117,400 last year, compared to an 11.8 percent drop in 2011. The related category of bonus plus nonequity incentive compensation showed a more modest 6.4 percent bounce to $1,197,065 from a 7.7 percent decline in the prior year.

Corporate Counsel found that the mostly highly compensated GCs were clustered in the entertainment, pharmaceuticals, insurance, aerospace, and telecommunications industries.

Full survey data are available for purchase in searchable, sortable Excel format from ALM Legal Intelligence at All data for the survey were taken from the proxy statements of the Fortune 500.

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