September 22, 2022

“The First Thing We Do, Let’s Pay All the Lawyers”: The Rise of GCs Among NEOs

Equilar & BarkerGilmore recently published their annual report on GC pay trends.  As always, the report has a lot of detail on compensation components, demographic information and commentary on the state of the market for GC positions.  But to me, the most interesting aspect of the report is its acknowledgement of the increasing number of GCs who are appearing as NEOs in public company comp tables:

One measure of the ascension of the role over the past half-decade is an increase in GC reported among the named executive officer (NEO) population. In 2021, 175 Equilar 500 companies included a General Counsel among their NEOs. This is up from a five-year low of 167 in 2018. The total of 175 is the same number as reported by the group in 2020, and at 4.8% growth in the last four years, the rate of increase is more modest than the 8.2% rise reported between 2016 and 2020 seen in the 2021 edition of General Counsel Pay Trends. Ongoing growth nevertheless serves to underline the continued evolution of the role.

The report says that GCs aren’t ascendant across all industries. The number of GCs identified as NEOs fell in prevalence among companies in both the consumer cyclical and consumer defensive sectors, and rose more modestly in some others, including healthcare and basic materials.

John Jenkins