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Corporate Counsel Survey Finds General Counsel's 2012 Compensation Turnaround Continued in 2013

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NEW YORK, July 16, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Compensation of the 100 highest-salaried U.S. general counsel continued to rebound last year from its sharp drop in 2011, according to a survey in the August issue of ALM's Corporate Counsel, the nation's leading publication for general counsel and in-house attorneys, and online at http://www.corpcounsel.com. Both salaries and bonuses increased in 2013. Equity awards dipped slightly but still outshone options.

Corporate Counsel's annual GC Compensation Survey is conducted by ALM Legal Intelligence (ALI). ALI reviews Fortune 500 proxy statements to find the 100 GCs with highest total cash compensation, which includes salary, bonus and nonequity incentives.

Leading the pack again was General Electric Company's Brackett Denniston III with $5,827,000 cash compensation. Bank of America Corporation's Gary Lynch followed with $5,456,840. Gerson Zweifach, GC of both News Corp. and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. after their split, claimed third place with his $5,250,000 from Twenty-First Century Fox alone; News Corp. compensation information is not publicly available.

The salary component of GC compensation jumped 6.8 percent to an average of $701,001, nearly as large an increase as the 7.4 percent increase the year before. Zweifach's salary of $3,000,000 was by far the highest.

Fueled by the stronger corporate governance focus on performance, the 100 GCs earned an average of $1,271,867 in the category of bonus plus "nonequity incentive compensation," 6.3 percent more than the prior year and the highest in the survey's history.

Stock awards tied to performance, which now dominate an equity compensation category that was once mostly option awards, averaged $1,562,059, 33.5 percent below the prior year. However, the drop was exaggerated by hefty awards the year before to Apple Inc.'s Bruce Sewell. Without Sewell, average stock awards would be down just 3.6 percent.

Pfizer Inc.'s Amy Schulman was the best-compensated woman in the survey at $2,841,900. Only two others, Lockheed Martin Corporation's Maryanne Lavan and McKesson Corporation's Laureen Seeger, were among the top 20. Both Schulman and Seeger have since left their positions.

Among 22 industry categories broken out in the survey, banking & finance had the best-compensated GCs followed by entertainment companies. Railroad GCs had the lowest compensation levels.

Full survey data are available for purchase in searchable, sortable Excel format from ALM Legal Intelligence at http://almlegalintel.com/Surveys/GCcomp.

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Source: ALM