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The 20 Highest-Paid GCs at U.S. Public Companies


November 29, 2016

In connection with the recent report, General Counsel Pay Trends 2016, featuring commentary from BarkerGilmore, Equilar conducted additional research on the 20 highest-paid GCs reported in annual proxy statements to gain perspective on the leading professionals in these high-profile roles.

The top 20 list primarily features well-known companies with revenues upwards of $20 billion (and in some cases, much more). Consistent with the findings of the Equilar report, GCs who serve large corporations earn significantly more at the median than their counterparts. Indeed, median total compensation was $2.5 million for GCs at companies with more than $15 billion in revenue, vs. $725,000 at companies with less than $1 billion in revenue.

Bruce Sewell, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Apple, is perched atop the highest-paid GC list. He was awarded $25.0 million in fiscal year 2015 on the strength of a $20 million stock grant, consistent with the pay of his fellow executive officers at Apple.

Sewell earned more than twice the amount of Greg Rayford, Senior Vice President and GC at Cheniere Energy, which coincidentally was the company with the lowest revenue on this list. Alan Braverman, Executive Vice President, GC and Secretary at the Walt Disney Company, rounded out the top three, who were the only GCs to earn more than $10 million in 2015.

See below for the complete list of the 20 highest-paid GCs including total compensation—which includes salary, bonus, stock and options grants, and “other” compensation (including benefits and perks) from the summary compensation table in the company’s proxy statement—as well as company revenue.

Highest-Paid General Counsel, Fiscal Year 2015

COMPANY EXECUTIVE NAME TOTAL COMPENSATION COMPANY REVENUE ($MM)
Apple Inc. Bruce Sewell $25,017,626 $233,715.0
Cheniere Energy, Inc. Greg W. Rayford $12,283,163 $270.9
The Walt Disney Company Alan N. Braverman $10,298,677 $52,465.0
Time Warner Inc. Paul T. Cappuccio $9,540,679 $28,118.0
Energy Transfer Partners Thomas P. Mason* $9,125,824 $34,292.0
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. Gerson Zweifach $8,620,816 $28,987.0
United Therapeutics Corporation Paul A. Mahon $8,227,861 $1,465.8
KKR & Co. L.P. David J. Sorkin $7,763,496 $7,212.9
American Express Company Laureen E. Seeger $7,455,743 $30,830.0
Kennedy-Wilson Holdings, Inc. Kent Mouton $6,946,400 $603.7
Discovery Communications, Inc. Bruce L. Campbell $6,847,291 $6,394.0
AbbVie Inc. Laura J. Schumacher $6,801,928 $22,859.0
Microsoft Corporation Bradford L. Smith $6,800,682 $93,580.0
The Dow Chemical Company Charles Kalil $6,597,145 $48,778.0
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Sandra Leung $6,534,678 $16,560.0
Viacom Inc. Michael D. Fricklas $6,316,995 $13,268.0
Lockheed Martin Corporation Maryanne R. Lavan $5,952,852 $46,132.0
CVS Health Corporation Thomas M. Moriarty $5,924,393 $153,290.0
Philip Morris International Inc. Marc Firestone $5,892,110 $73,908.0
The Priceline Group Inc. Peter J. Millones $5,742,678 $9,224.0
Source: Equilar *Mason is also GC for Energy Transfer Equity Median = $6,896,846 Average = $8,434,552 Median = $28,552.5 Average = $45,097.7

For more information on Equilar research and data analysis, please contact Dan Marcec, Director of Content & Communications at dmarcec@equilar.com.

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