How Much Do Corporate Lawyers Earn?


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

Over two years, the average annual salary of a Canadian corporate lawyer has increased by 7%, while it stood at $167,500 in 2020.

This is what emerges from the survey on salaries presented by the Canadian Association of Corporate Counsel (ACCRE), and of which Droit-Inc obtained a copy. The biannual study, conducted since 2018 by The Counsel Network, was unveiled for the first time at the recent CCCA annual conference.

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

Notoriously, the transparency of companies on salary issues seems to be lacking: to obtain information relating to remuneration, a large majority (75%) of corporate lawyers rely on their network. HR services are consulted by only 18% of respondents.

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

Variations by sector

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

Next are the retail, hospitality, food and consumer products industries, where you can earn $212,000 on average. Manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and chemicals follow with an average annual salary of $206,000, while oil companies offer $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 utility companies ($167,000) bring up the rear of the companies.

As for the public and parapublic sector, the lowest paid legal advisors in the country are found there, with an average annual base salary of $153,000.

In Quebec

While Quebec salaries are equivalent to the national average, with a base annual salary of $179,500, they have increased by 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 salaries increase by more than 2% for the same period, while 16% received an increase of 3% to 5%. 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 according to the positions held: in 2022, in Quebec, the average base salaries are $132,000 for lawyers and senior legal advisers, and $195,500 for lawyers generals.

Note also that if you earn more money, the costs also increase. Thus, one-third of corporate lawyers in La Belle Province reported an increase in the cost of employee benefits. In addition, Quebec respondents continue to be slightly less satisfied with their benefit plan and incentive programs than the country as a whole.

City lawyers, country lawyers

Also on a regional basis, salaries fluctuate: Ontario respondents report 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 average base salary for corporate lawyers is $158,000.

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

In the Prairies, the average base salary for legal counsel in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is $147,000 in 2022, which is $33,000 less than the national average and an increase of only $1,000 over base salary. declared in 2020.

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

In British Columbia, finally, corporate lawyers earn 181,000, and the survey does not see a big difference between lawyers in Vancouver and those elsewhere in the province.

A gendered salary

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

This is a steep increase from the $19,000 gap seen in 2020, the report’s authors note.

The survey also finds significant gender gaps in top salaries. Thus, 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 lawyers is $20,000 to $30,000 higher than the average awarded to female lawyers.

And women are paid less than men at all professional levels. Among legal advisers, the gender gap is the lowest: $6,500 in favor of men. In senior management, the advantage for men is $23,500.

The pandemic impact

The report also measures the impact of the pandemic on a variety of metrics. In this respect, we note a significant decrease in satisfaction with the balance between personal and professional life, whereas only a quarter of lawyers are satisfied with it.

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

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


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