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Gender pay gap still stark for in-house lawyers

There continues to be a gap in pay in corporate counsel roles, according to new research.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 28 April 2020 Corporate Counsel
Gender pay gap
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Global recruitment firm Major, Lindsey & Africa has released its 2020 In-House Counsel Compensation Survey, which received 3,900 responses from professionals in 36 counties. The subsequent report reviewed the detailed compensation packages for a range of positions in the legal department, from chief legal officer/general counsel down to in-house counsel.

The report found that, despite there having been greater awareness of the pay inequity between men and women, and steps having been taken to combat it, “there nevertheless continues to be pay inequity globally between male and female GCs”.

Globally, male CLOs/GC report a higher average base salary than women, with the former earning $326,000 before bonuses and/or commissions compared to a base of $307,000 globally for women before such variable pay.


When variable pay is factored in, men retain a higher average quantum of total actual cash (TAC), taking home $501,000 versus $444,000.

Interestingly, the data from MLA showed that gender disparity for CLOs/GCs around the world “comes primarily” from the bonuses rather than the base salary: the pay differential in base salary for men and women was 6 per cent, whereas the pay differential in actual paid bonuses was 13 per cent.

“In other words, the greater part of the disparity is bonus-related and not salary-related. The reason for this phenomenon is not known to us, nor are we able to speculate at this time,” MLA wrote in its report.

Elsewhere in the report, the gender pay gap within the US was clear in other positions within the legal department.

At the chief compliance officer level, men earn $401,000 compared to $389,000 for women. At the deputy or assistant GC level, men and women earn $356,000 and $329,000 respectively, and at the counsel level, men and women earn $211,000 and $192,000 respectively.

Interestingly, however, at the senior counsel/associate GC level, women bucked the trend, earning $271,000 compared to $251,000 for men.

NB: All figures quoted are in US dollars.

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