Legal Counsel Careers

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 $60.11 an hour? That's $125,021 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.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a legal counsel, we found that a lot of resumes listed 33.4% of legal counsels included legal advice, while 4.8% of resumes included legal department, and 4.2% of resumes included intellectual property. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the legal counsel job title. But what industry to start with? Most legal counsels actually find jobs in the technology and manufacturing industries.

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 12.3% of legal counsels have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 25.1% 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 doctoral degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on legal counsel resumes include bachelor's degree degrees or diploma 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.

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Average Salary
$125,021
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
4,791
Job Openings

Legal Counsel Career Paths

Top Careers Before Legal Counsel

Law Clerk
13.1 %
Attorney
12.8 %
Associate
12.3 %

Top Careers After Legal Counsel

Attorney
20.5 %

What is the right job for my career path?

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

Average Salary for a Legal Counsel

Legal Counsels in America make an average salary of $125,021 per year or $60 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $199,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $78,000 per year.
Average Salary
$125,021

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range100k - 205k$143k$143,316
Seattle, WA
Salary Range95k - 190k$135k$134,779
New York, NY
Salary Range91k - 176k$127k$126,849
Boston, MA
Salary Range86k - 169k$121k$120,752
Washington, DC
Salary Range86k - 166k$120k$120,215
Arlington, VA
Salary Range80k - 155k$112k$112,011
$57k
$205k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Senior Legal Counsel
Senior Legal Counsel
Ibotta
Ibotta
03/31/2021
03/31/2021
$140,00003/31/2021
$140,000
Legal Counsel To The State Court Administrator
Legal Counsel To The State Court Administrator
Iowa Department of Administrative Services
Iowa Department of Administrative Services
03/29/2021
03/29/2021
$94,64003/29/2021
$94,640
SR. Legal Counsel
SR. Legal Counsel
Nutrien Ltd.
Nutrien Ltd.
03/27/2021
03/27/2021
$139,65003/27/2021
$139,650
Legal Counsel
Legal Counsel
Guild Education
Guild Education
03/13/2021
03/13/2021
$130,00003/13/2021
$130,000
Legal Counsel, Innovation and Intellectual Property
Legal Counsel, Innovation and Intellectual Property
Equinix, Inc.
Equinix, Inc.
03/09/2021
03/09/2021
$98,00003/09/2021
$98,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Legal Counsel Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Legal Counsel. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Legal Counsel Resume

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

View Detailed Information

Legal Counsel Demographics

Gender

male

49.3 %

female

43.8 %

unknown

6.9 %

Ethnicity

White

80.3 %

Hispanic or Latino

6.9 %

Asian

5.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.2 %

French

15.0 %

Chinese

7.5 %
See More Demographics

Legal Counsel Education

Degrees

Bachelors

41.1 %

Doctorate

40.1 %

Masters

10.9 %

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 • Public

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
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

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%
  • See All Legal Counsel Skills

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 Colorado, Connecticut, California, and Washington. Legal counsels make the most in Colorado with an average salary of $128,079. Whereas in Connecticut and California, they would average $127,320 and $127,034, respectively. While legal counsels would only make an average of $126,967 in Washington, 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. Washington

Total Legal Counsel Jobs:
215
Highest 10% Earn:
$216,000
Location Quotient:
1.77
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. Colorado

Total Legal Counsel Jobs:
128
Highest 10% Earn:
$219,000
Location Quotient:
1.29
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:
$219,000
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
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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.com was the best, especially with an average salary of $154,790. Apple follows up with an average salary of $189,221, and then comes AARP with an average of $117,518. 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 PayPal, CVS Health, and Splunk

1. Amazon.com
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$154,790
Legal Counsels Hired: 
92+
2. Apple
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$189,221
Legal Counsels Hired: 
15+
3. AARP
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$117,518
Legal Counsels Hired: 
14+
4. Nationwide Mutual Insurance ...
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$139,527
Legal Counsels Hired: 
12+
5. Missouri Department of Transportation
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$80,567
Legal Counsels Hired: 
11+
6. Legal Aid Society
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$157,883
Legal Counsels Hired: 
10+

Legal Counsel Videos

Updated October 2, 2020