How much do corporate lawyers earn?


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In 2022, in Canada, the average base salary for corporate lawyers will be $180,000 per year, excluding benefits and incentives.

In two years, the average annual salary of a Canadian corporate lawyer has increased by 7%, compared to $167,500 in 2020.

This is according to the salary survey presented by the Canadian Association of Corporate Counsel (ACCRE), of which Droit-Inc has obtained a copy. The biennial study, conducted by The Counsel Network since 2018, was first unveiled at the recent CCCA annual conference.

the poll In-House Counsel Compensation & Career Report 2022to be made public soon, was conducted from January to March 2022 with 1,009 corporate lawyers and has a response rate of 16%.

It is notorious that companies’ transparency on salary issues seems to be lacking: a large majority (75%) of corporate lawyers rely on their network to obtain compensation information. HR services are consulted by only 18% of respondents.

In addition, lawyers work 47 hours a week, while listed companies need an average of 49.5 hours a week and the public sector 44.9 hours. One in five lawyers say they work 55 hours or more per week.

Variations by sector

In 2022, the highest average salaries will be paid by companies in the natural resources sector, where corporate lawyers earn an average of $233,000 per year.

The following are the retail, hospitality, food and consumer products sectors, where you can earn an average of $212,000. Manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and chemicals follow with an average annual salary of $206,000, while oil companies bid $200,000.

Real estate ($196,000), information technology ($190,000) and the pharmaceutical and medical industry ($184,000) follow.

Finance and insurance ($173,000), media, gaming and entertainment ($172,000) and utilities ($167,000) make up the back end of the businesses.

In terms of the public and parapublic sectors, they are home to the lowest-paid legal counsel in the country, with an average annual base salary of $153,000.

In Quebec

While salaries in Quebec are on par with the national average, with an annual base salary of $179,500, they are up 7% since 2020.

However, 22% of respondents in Quebec report no increase in their base salary in the past year.

In contrast, 33% of corporate lawyers surveyed saw their salary increase by more than 2% over the same period, while 16% received a 3% to 5% increase. Finally, 1 in 10 lawyers saw their salary increase by more than 5%, and the same proportion benefited from an increase of 10% or more.

As in other provinces, salary variations vary depending on the positions held: In 2022, average base salaries in Quebec will be $132,000 for attorneys and senior legal counsel and $195,500 for attorneys general.

Also keep in mind that as you make more money, the costs also increase. For example, a third of company lawyers in the province of La Belle reported an increase in the cost of employee benefits. In addition, respondents in Quebec are still slightly less satisfied with their benefit plan and incentive programs than the country as a whole.

City lawyers, country lawyers

Salaries also fluctuate on a regional basis, with Ontario respondents reporting average base salaries that are higher than the national average. British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec are close to the average, while central Canada and the Atlantic provinces have the lowest national averages.

In the Atlantic provinces, the median base salary for corporate lawyers is $158,000.

In Ontario, the median salary of $190,500 is 5% higher than the national average. Note that average salaries in Toronto have increased by more than $20,000 compared to 2020, while corporate lawyers in Ottawa saw their salaries drop by $15,000 over the same period.

In the Prairies, the average base salary for legal counsel in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is $147,000 in 2022, $33,000 less than the national average and an increase of just $1,000 from base salary.

In Alberta, the median base salary is $180,000, while salaries in Calgary have increased by $10,000, double the increase posted by lawyers in Edmonton.

Finally, in British Columbia, corporate lawyers earn 181,000, and the survey shows no significant difference between lawyers in Vancouver and those elsewhere in the province.

A gender-based salary

In 2022, the average base salary for men in Canada will be $193,000. That’s $24,000 more than the average base salary of $169,000 for women.

This is a sharp increase from the $19,000 gap in 2020, the report authors note.

The research also finds significant gender gaps in top salaries. For example, 42% of men have an average salary of $200,000 or more, compared to 25% of women.

In the private sector, the average annual salary awarded to attorneys is $20,000 to $30,000 higher than the average awarded to female attorneys.

And women are paid less than men at all occupational levels. Among legal advisors, the gender gap is narrowest: $6,500 in favor of men. In senior management, the benefit for men is $23,500.

The pandemic impact

The report also measures the impact of the pandemic on several metrics. In that regard, we observe a significant drop in satisfaction with the balance between private and professional life, while only a quarter of lawyers are satisfied with this.

While more than half of respondents (58%) say they currently work full-time from home, two-thirds (65%) expect to adopt a hybrid work model this year.

In addition, 55% of lawyers say they will be given more responsibilities as a result of the pandemic, such as childcare. More than two-thirds of them (68%) think this overload has had an impact on their work.

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