ACC Compensation Survey Data Suggests Gender Pay Gap has Turned in Favor of Women General Counsel

Racial and ethnic minority women reported higher median total cash compensation than their peers for the first-time ever, and non-minority women in multi-lawyer departments reported the highest median compensation of any group, potential trends ACC will continue to monitor.

Washington, Oct. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The “2023 Law Department Compensation Survey,” released by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Empsight International, LLC, showed first-ever signs that the gender pay gap among general counsel may be shifting in favor of women – both minority and non-minority. Data from the ACC Law Department Self-Reported Compensation Survey, based on responses from 445 general counsel throughout the United States, showed that:

  • When sorting by gender alone, men and women reported the same median total cash compensation (see graphic #1).
  • Among all general counsel without regard to law department size/setting, minority women reported a median total cash compensation of $325,000, eight percent higher than their peers (see graphic #2).
  • Women in multi-lawyer departments reported earning 19.5 percent more than men and only 3 percent less than men in single-lawyer departments (see graphic #3).  
  • In multi-lawyer departments, non-minority women reported earning about 36 percent more than both non-minority men and minority women and more than 50 percent higher than minority men (see graphic #4).
  • Minority women reported earning 19 percent more that non-minority men in single-lawyer departments and minority men lagged all others in single-lawyer departments by upwards of 37 percent. Minority men did not fare much better in multi-lawyer departments where their median compensation was greater than 10 percent behind all others (see graphic #4).

“ACC’s compensation survey represents a large cross-section of companies in the US and for the first-time shows that non-minority women who achieve the coveted GC spot in multi-lawyer departments are among the highest paid and compensation levels for women of color general counsel exceeded their peers for the first time in the history of ACC’s compensation surveys,” said Veta T. Richardson, president & CEO at the Association of Corporate Counsel. “These survey results suggest that progress is being made to address the long-time gender pay gap. I celebrate these women whose ability, leadership, and awareness have enabled them to achieve the role of general counsel and negotiate higher compensation. I am pleased to see that their compensation levels are rising to reflect the value they bring. But the devil is always in the details and one year’s data cannot be interpreted to mean the gender pay gap has been completely eliminated, especially for positions below the GC level and when compensation for minority male GCs so significantly falls below all others. However, it is good news that we’re seeing some progress and I look forward to the day when discussions about pay disparity are no longer necessary.”

The “2023 Law Department Compensation Survey” is one of the largest and most comprehensive Safe Harbor Compliant compensation data sets available for in-house legal professionals.

The ACC Law Department Self-Reported Compensation Survey is based on responses from 1,963 in-house legal professionals throughout the United States. This self-reported data is used to create the Executive Summary (available to everyone). The Full Survey Report (available for purchase) includes all jobs and covers companies of all revenue sizes enabling individual law department professionals to benchmark their own compensation and career planning.

There is also company-sourced data representing nearly 18,000 professionals used to create additional benchmarking reports that are available for purchase (large company edition, mid-market edition) for over 90 in-house legal positions. Law department leaders and HR can use these to benchmark their entire department.

The Executive Summary can be viewed here. For further information, please contact Dan Weber at and visit the compensation benchmarking survey website.


About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the premier global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other organizations through informationeducationnetworking, and advocacy. For more than 40 years, ACC has set the standard for in-house counsel and raised awareness regarding the value of the chief legal officer in the C-suite and boardroom. With more than 45,000 members employed by over 10,000 organizations and spanning 100+ nations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel® remains the foundation for ACC’s market leadership. For more information, visit and follow ACC on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.




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