Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

(Discuss Advantages vs Disadvantages, Making the Switch From Private Practice to In-House, Compensation & Hours, Work-Life balance, In-House Reviews & Experiences)
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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:04 am

Here’s another data point. I’m considering an offer at a private equity owned, cash-flow positive start-up in a smaller market.

Salary: $165k
Bonus: 20% (based on both personal and company performance)
Equity: $200k in unit appreciation rights (holding company is set up as an LLC). These vest over 4 years but accelerate upon a change in control.

Current base is $175k as a corporate mid level at a V200, which is top of market among firms in my city, which had fairly low COL.

I’m trying to figure how to factor the unit appreciation rights in my decision. It seems like there could be a lot of upside if the company continues to grow and the PE firm looks to exit, but they could be worth nothing if growth stalls. Anyone else have experience with these?

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RedGiant

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by RedGiant » Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:21 am

1styearlateral wrote:Lawyer Whisperer recently published a post that the startup market is now trending towards year-end bonuses of 30% of base. Anyone experiencing this?
Yes. This has been my experience at the CLO and AGC level in SF. It's a little lower for Director-level (Corp Counsel, Sr. Corp counsel)--closer to 20-25%. I interviewed for my current role in December and have done a lot of benchmarking for hiring in the past year in the SF tech market.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by RedGiant » Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:Here’s another data point. I’m considering an offer at a private equity owned, cash-flow positive start-up in a smaller market.

Salary: $165k
Bonus: 20% (based on both personal and company performance)
Equity: $200k in unit appreciation rights (holding company is set up as an LLC). These vest over 4 years but accelerate upon a change in control.

Current base is $175k as a corporate mid level at a V200, which is top of market among firms in my city, which had fairly low COL.

I’m trying to figure how to factor the unit appreciation rights in my decision. It seems like there could be a lot of upside if the company continues to grow and the PE firm looks to exit, but they could be worth nothing if growth stalls. Anyone else have experience with these?
SARs (also commonly called membership units or units in LLCs) are the LLC-equivalent of a regular corporation's options. Yes...there is potential for upside with any options. Find out what their fair market value history has been and what it is currently, and also understand where the company is in its maturity cycle (growth, stable, etc.) because then you can get a sense of the trajectory of the growth of the SAR price (and your holdings) over time. You should find out more about the actual specifics of the SARs. A good resource for you to understand all of this is Mary Russell at stockoptioncounsel.com (or .net). Anywhere you see the word "option", replace with "SAR". They're the same.

This 4 year vest (with a one year cliff, likely), is Valley standard, very common for private companies. At the past two companies I joined, my options were granted at X, and within three-four months, they were worth 2X--some of mine are now worth 8x or 12x. So that's why understanding the Company's growth trajectory is key. If your base + cash bonus is generous, and management/legal team/finance team all seem good, then being at a private company is loads better than biglaw. You'll get your time back, work with sane people and actually be able to make plans for holiday and weekends. GL!

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 02, 2020 8:11 pm

Is my package decent?

Company: major market (LA/SF) tech company
Area: Generalist (IP transactions, Employment, litigation, compliance, etc. )
Year: 2019
Experience: 2 years in-house at another tech company in Asia
Salary: 140k
Bonus: 24%-32%
benefit: 401k 100% match, free lunch, couple hundreds dollars housing stip., cell phone plan stip.
Equity: none offered at the moment

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 02, 2020 10:33 pm

Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on mine as well (also providing a datapoint for those who’d like):

Media/Entertainment Company
160k base
20% bonus
2 1/2 years biglaw
Major Market (CA/IL/NY)

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by trebekismyhero » Mon May 04, 2020 11:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on mine as well (also providing a datapoint for those who’d like):

Media/Entertainment Company
160k base
20% bonus
2 1/2 years biglaw
Major Market (CA/IL/NY)
Pretty decent for media companies, especially if you're in LA or Chicago. I have seen those type of salaries for more mid-levels than juniors. Assuming no equity?

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:36 pm

This was my offer from a tech startup (which I accepted) as a 5th year in biglaw (v100) doing employment/litigation.

Salary: 150k
Raise: ~5% annually
Bonus: None
Healthcare: amazing with low/no premium.
Equity: I got a stock option grant and can expect a refresh at year 3. Hard to put a value on it since the company isn’t public.
Location: secondary market with moderate cost of living
Hours: 9-5. No weekends unless absolutely necessary, which is rare.

Huge paycut from market paying biglaw but it’s worth every penny to actually have a life.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Yugihoe » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:36 pm
This was my offer from a tech startup (which I accepted) as a 5th year in biglaw (v100) doing employment/litigation.

Salary: 150k
Raise: ~5% annually
Bonus: None
Healthcare: amazing with low/no premium.
Equity: I got a stock option grant and can expect a refresh at year 3. Hard to put a value on it since the company isn’t public.
Location: secondary market with moderate cost of living
Hours: 9-5. No weekends unless absolutely necessary, which is rare.

Huge paycut from market paying biglaw but it’s worth every penny to actually have a life.
Sweet hours, decent pay. Market? 150k is a tough sell in NYC.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:10 pm

Big tech - Seattle (FAANGM)
c/o 2011
$170k base
20% target bonus

I would say it’s 9-5 but lately, it feels like more. I am not happy with my base salary but it seems within range at this company. They wouldn’t budge further. Might try to switch companies to increase salary at the two year mark.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:52 pm

VC
Bay Area
Class of 2017
Salary: 200k
Starting bonus: 20k
Year end Bonus: 30k
401k match (6% total comp) plus annual profit sharing (typically 5-10% total comp)

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Yugihoe

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Yugihoe » Sat Jul 11, 2020 3:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:52 pm
VC
Bay Area
Class of 2017
Salary: 200k
Starting bonus: 20k
Year end Bonus: 30k
401k match (6% total comp) plus annual profit sharing (typically 5-10% total comp)
Nice what are the hours like? Are you doing general corporate? Size of company?

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:03 pm

You must get some bonus in this deal?

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:01 pm

How difficult is it to find an in-house position to get out of BigLaw? I'm read some things that are saying it's nearly impossible to find something and/or that the pay makes it highly problematic (sub 100k), but this thread makes it seem as if that's not the case. Is this just a bias bc of who wants to report (aka no one who's being offered less wants to share)?

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Sackboy » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:01 pm
How difficult is it to find an in-house position to get out of BigLaw? I'm read some things that are saying it's nearly impossible to find something and/or that the pay makes it highly problematic (sub 100k), but this thread makes it seem as if that's not the case. Is this just a bias bc of who wants to report (aka no one who's being offered less wants to share)?
Context is king.

Firm Quality: The jobs you might get out of Cravath are probably different than the ones you get out of Bryan Cave. So, when people talk broadly, it's hard to tell exactly what's happening.

Location: In-House jobs in Chicago might pay ~$200k moving over as a junior/midlevel. That same job in Idaho at a similar company might pay ~$100k. With cost of living accounted for, that $100k might take you a hell of a lot farther in Idaho.

Industry: Some industries pay notoriously poorly/well. Entertainment is one that always pays shockingly poorly. PE/VC can pay incredibly well.

Value: Some companies just value their counsel more/less.

Confusing titles: An Assistant General Counsel at Princeton probably makes 1/2 or 1/3 of what an Assistant General Counsel makes at a F500 company. Legal titles are weird and don't mean the same things company-to-company. An Assistant GC at a non-profit is the lowest title. An Assistant GC at a F500 might be a top 5-20 lawyer in a 200 person department.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by dabigchina » Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:10 pm
Big tech - Seattle (FAANGM)
c/o 2011
$170k base
20% target bonus

I would say it’s 9-5 but lately, it feels like more. I am not happy with my base salary but it seems within range at this company. They wouldn’t budge further. Might try to switch companies to increase salary at the two year mark.
Do you not get equity? That seems strange, given the industry and your seniority.

Stock at FAANGM is basically as good as cash. That goes double if you work where I think you work. Don't short change yourself when thinking about how much you make.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:07 pm

dabigchina wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:06 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:10 pm
Big tech - Seattle (FAANGM)
c/o 2011
$170k base
20% target bonus

I would say it’s 9-5 but lately, it feels like more. I am not happy with my base salary but it seems within range at this company. They wouldn’t budge further. Might try to switch companies to increase salary at the two year mark.
Do you not get equity? That seems strange, given the industry and your seniority.

Stock at FAANGM is basically as good as cash. That goes double if you work where I think you work. Don't short change yourself when thinking about how much you make.
I get equity. I received a sign on equity of about $40k spread out over four years. I’m not sure what the yearly equity is, which comes along with the cash bonus, but you’re right. I do get stock in addition to the 20% target cash bonus.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:55 am

C/o 2014 here, started as an associate counsel at a FAANGM in NYC three years ago out of BigLaw and just started an another FAANGM company last month (this time as a corporate counsel).

Stats for company 1:
- $145k base w/ ~$50,000 cash gross-up in each of years 1 and 2, stock grant worth $400k vesting over four, no bonus.

Stats for company 2:
- $250k base, 25% target bonus, $200k stock grant vesting over four years.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by BigLawer » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:55 am
C/o 2014 here, started as an associate counsel at a FAANGM in NYC three years ago out of BigLaw and just started an another FAANGM company last month (this time as a corporate counsel).

Stats for company 1:
- $145k base w/ ~$50,000 cash gross-up in each of years 1 and 2, stock grant worth $400k vesting over four, no bonus.

Stats for company 2:
- $250k base, 25% target bonus, $200k stock grant vesting over four years.
Congrats, this is wild comp. Also, that initial $400k had to be worth big money after the run FAANGM has had. One question, how often do you get stock grants? Is it just the one time or some sort of annual grant?

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by AdInfinitum » Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:55 am
C/o 2014 here, started as an associate counsel at a FAANGM in NYC three years ago out of BigLaw and just started an another FAANGM company last month (this time as a corporate counsel).

Stats for company 1:
- $145k base w/ ~$50,000 cash gross-up in each of years 1 and 2, stock grant worth $400k vesting over four, no bonus.

Stats for company 2:
- $250k base, 25% target bonus, $200k stock grant vesting over four years.
Do you feel like going in-house at that level or with an associate counsel title has hindered your advancement at all? Currently a third year and would love to move in house as soon as possible, but "conventional wisdom" I see repeated everywhere is that it's better to wait a few more years and get at least a senior counsel title to not restrict future career and salary growth. Great to see examples where that doesn't seem to be true.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:38 am

Do you feel like going in-house at that level or with an associate counsel title has hindered your advancement at all? Currently a third year and would love to move in house as soon as possible, but "conventional wisdom" I see repeated everywhere is that it's better to wait a few more years and get at least a senior counsel title to not restrict future career and salary growth. Great to see examples where that doesn't seem to be true.
I actually think the opposite is true, at least at my old company. Not unlike BigLaw, the leal department I was in is very much up or out. There aren't really any "career" counsel or senior corporate counsel--folks either make it to AGC within ~10 years or they leave (general progression is 2-4 years at counsel, and another 5-6 years at senior corporate counsel before getting a promotion to AGC--there a select few who get promoted to VP... and, of course, there's one GC). Coming in as an associate counsel gives you more time to learn the ropes of being a good in-house lawyer at a tech company--a skill that takes time to learn. Coming in early in the right group will also give you time to decide whether you want to focus on being a commercial or product counsel (or both).

That's not to say going in-house too early doesn't hinder advancement. There are early career in-house hires that flounder because they didn't get good/great at the fundamentals while they were at the firm (drafting, negotiation, giving practical client advice, etc.). Biglaw is generally a pre-requisite to getting a job at a FAANGM company because the companies aren't setup to give young lawyers the training they need to actually be good at the basics of their job. A silver lining to the long hours at the firm is that you're able to get in reps you can't get in-house.

Note that this is only really true at FAANGM companies, I have friends who are in-house at other companies and career counsel/senior counsel are very much a thing.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by AdInfinitum » Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:38 am
Do you feel like going in-house at that level or with an associate counsel title has hindered your advancement at all? Currently a third year and would love to move in house as soon as possible, but "conventional wisdom" I see repeated everywhere is that it's better to wait a few more years and get at least a senior counsel title to not restrict future career and salary growth. Great to see examples where that doesn't seem to be true.
I actually think the opposite is true, at least at my old company. Not unlike BigLaw, the leal department I was in is very much up or out. There aren't really any "career" counsel or senior corporate counsel--folks either make it to AGC within ~10 years or they leave (general progression is 2-4 years at counsel, and another 5-6 years at senior corporate counsel before getting a promotion to AGC--there a select few who get promoted to VP... and, of course, there's one GC). Coming in as an associate counsel gives you more time to learn the ropes of being a good in-house lawyer at a tech company--a skill that takes time to learn. Coming in early in the right group will also give you time to decide whether you want to focus on being a commercial or product counsel (or both).

That's not to say going in-house too early doesn't hinder advancement. There are early career in-house hires that flounder because they didn't get good/great at the fundamentals while they were at the firm (drafting, negotiation, giving practical client advice, etc.). Biglaw is generally a pre-requisite to getting a job at a FAANGM company because the companies aren't setup to give young lawyers the training they need to actually be good at the basics of their job. A silver lining to the long hours at the firm is that you're able to get in reps you can't get in-house.

Note that this is only really true at FAANGM companies, I have friends who are in-house at other companies and career counsel/senior counsel are very much a thing.
Thanks - this is super helpful!

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:38 am
Coming in early in the right group will also give you time to decide whether you want to focus on being a commercial or product counsel (or both).
Sorry if this derails this helpful thread, but could you briefly talk about this. I assumed that commercial counsel roles went mostly to corporate associates with contracting experience and product counsel roles went mostly to litigation/regulatory associates. Is that too simplistic? What kind of role would give you exposure to both at a FAANGM-sized tech company?

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by SamuelDanforth » Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:03 am

Sorry, didn't mean for that question to be anonymous.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:33 pm

I assumed that commercial counsel roles went mostly to corporate associates with contracting experience and product counsel roles went mostly to litigation/regulatory associates.
Outside of specific groups (competition, policy, regulatory, etc.), the vast majority of lawyers at the companies I've worked for have transactional backgrounds (mostly M&A and finance, surprisingly few IP/tech trans.) whether they are commercial or product counsel.
What kind of role would give you exposure to both at a FAANGM-sized tech company?
There are some FAANG companies that generally don't hire lawyers into specific roles. Instead, lawyers are hired to support one of the company's specific products and handle the commercial and product issues that come up for that product. Even in the companies that do split lawyers between product and commercial, there are usually "hybrid" counsel roles that allow you to do both.

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Re: Typical In-House Salary Package for Junior Lawyer?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:35 am

Media/Entertainment Company
180k base
15% bonus
4.5 years V10 big law
Major Market (CA/NY)
No equity

I'm aware that entertainment generally pays less, but does this seem too low?

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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