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What is a Legal Counsel

A Legal Counsel is a professionally trained, qualified, and licensed to practice law. Their work entails providing legal guidance, advice, and representing clients in civil and criminal cases. Their clients can be individuals, businesses, or government institutions.

Regardless of the client they represent, legal counsels have an obligation to uphold the law while protecting the client's rights. A legal counsel may decide to specialize in a particular area of law or to be a general practitioner that represents clients on different matters.

The common areas of specialization are family law, criminal law, company law, intellectual property law, immigration law, employment law, among others. The exact duties of a legal counsel depend on whether the case they are handling is a civil one or a criminal one but their general objective is to minimize the legal risk associated with their client's affairs.

A legal counsel works 40 hours a week, but sometimes extra hours are necessary when they need to meet with clients or prepare for trial.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a Legal Counsel. For example, did you know that they make an average of $63.3 an hour? That's $131,667 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 6% and produce 50,100 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Legal Counsel Do

There are certain skills that many Legal Counsels have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed Analytical skills, Interpersonal skills and Problem-solving skills.

Learn more about what a Legal Counsel does

How To Become a Legal Counsel

If you're interested in becoming a Legal Counsel, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 43.0% of Legal Counsels have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 11.5% of Legal Counsels have master's degrees. Even though most Legal Counsels have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a Legal Counsel. When we researched the most common majors for a Legal Counsel, we found that they most commonly earn Bachelor's Degree degrees or Doctoral Degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on Legal Counsel resumes include Master's Degree degrees or Associate Degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a Legal Counsel. In fact, many Legal Counsel jobs require experience in a role such as Law Clerk. Meanwhile, many Legal Counsels also have previous career experience in roles such as Attorney or Associate.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Citigroup Jobs (7)
  2. eBay Jobs (8)
  3. Accenture Jobs (10)
  4. Nokia Jobs (9)
  5. Apple Jobs (20)
Average Salary
$131,667
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
12,654
Job Openings
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Legal Counsel Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Legal Counsel

Legal Counsels in America make an average salary of $131,667 per year or $63 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $201,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $85,000 per year.
Average Salary
$131,667
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How much should you be earning as an Legal Counsel? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.
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5 Legal Counsel Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Legal Counsel Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Legal Counsel resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Legal Counsel Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Citigroup Jobs (7)
  2. eBay Jobs (8)
  3. Accenture Jobs (10)
  4. Nokia Jobs (9)
  5. Apple Jobs (20)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Legal Counsel Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Legal Counsel templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Legal Counsel resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Legal Counsel Resume
Legal Counsel Resume
Legal Counsel Resume
Legal Counsel Resume
Legal Counsel Resume
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Legal Counsel Resume
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Legal Counsel Demographics

Legal Counsel Gender Distribution

Male
Male
54%
Female
Female
46%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among Legal Counsels, 45.8% of them are women, while 54.2% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among Legal Counsels is White, which makes up 79.2% of all Legal Counsels.

  • The most common foreign language among Legal Counsels is Spanish at 40.2%.

Job Openings

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Legal Counsel Education

Legal Counsel Degrees

Bachelors

43.0 %

Doctorate

41.8 %

Masters

11.5 %

Top Colleges for Legal Counsels

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

5. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

6. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

7. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

8. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

9. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

10. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,391
Enrollment
8,568
Job Openings

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Online Courses For Legal Counsel That You May Like

Effective Legal Office Administration
udemy
4.5
(583)

Effective Legal Office Administration...

Solution Based Counselling Practitioner Cert (ACCREDITED)
udemy
4.5
(404)

Take Counselling to the next level with this Solution Based Counselling Practitioner Course from The Priority Academy...

Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship
coursera

By its nature, the law touches on many aspects of entrepreneurship, making it an applicable and versatile topic of study. For aspiring entrepreneurs, it's important to understand how to form the business, work with the initial customers, and hire. For active entrepreneurs, there are critical considerations on employment law, operating policies, and managing contracts. For everyone, the role that the law plays in managing the company, and its associated risks, must be properly understood to navig...

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Top Skills For a Legal Counsel

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 33.4% of Legal Counsels listed Legal Advice on their resume, but soft skills such as Analytical skills and Interpersonal skills are important as well.

  • Legal Advice, 33.4%
  • Legal Department, 4.8%
  • Intellectual Property, 4.2%
  • Counsel, 3.6%
  • Legal Risks, 3.5%
  • Other Skills, 50.5%

Best States For a Legal Counsel

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Legal Counsel. The best states for people in this position are New York, California, Virginia, and Connecticut. Legal Counsels make the most in New York with an average salary of $138,993. Whereas in California and Virginia, they would average $132,397 and $131,973, respectively. While Legal Counsels would only make an average of $131,621 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New York

Total Legal Counsel Jobs:
395
Highest 10% Earn:
$217,000
Location Quotient:
1.85
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. District of Columbia

Total Legal Counsel Jobs:
144
Highest 10% Earn:
$221,000
Location Quotient:
5.15
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. California

Total Legal Counsel Jobs:
797
Highest 10% Earn:
$212,000
Location Quotient:
1.64
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Legal Counsels

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Top Legal Counsel Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ Legal Counsels and discovered their number of Legal Counsel opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Amazon was the best, especially with an average salary of $164,927. Splunk follows up with an average salary of $119,934, and then comes Apple with an average of $173,598. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a Legal Counsel. The employers include Twitter, HSBC North America Holdings, and CVS Health

Most Common Employers For Legal Counsel

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Legal Counsel SalaryAverage Salary
1$248,053
2$206,373
3$193,138
4$177,156
5$173,598
6$173,473

Legal Counsel Videos

Becoming a Legal Counsel FAQs

How long does it take to become a legal counsel?

It takes seven years to become a legal counsel. Becoming a legal counsel usually takes seven years of full-time study after high school. This includes four years of undergraduate study, followed by three years of law school.

Is it legal counsel or council?

It is legal counsel, not council. Counsel means to advise and can be used as a noun or verb, while a council is a group of people convened for advice or consultation and as such only ever used as a noun.

What is the difference between counsel and a lawyer?

The difference between counsel and a lawyer comes down to their role within the company. Legal counsel, for example, is employed by firms to handle all the legal matters and disputes that they may encounter and do not work independently. Unlike a lawyer who may have his/her own firm or may work independently as an advocate.

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