- Legal operations leaders at the largest legal departments reported average total compensation that was 26% higher this year than in 2022, according to a recently released Brightflag survey.
- The average total compensation for legal ops chiefs within legal departments of more than 100 people was $306,000, and it was $210,000 for ops leaders across in-house departments of all sizes. Additionally, the eight highest-compensated heads of legal operations among the survey respondents earn $500,000 or more annually in total compensation.
- Three-fourths of legal operations leaders report receiving a cash bonus and 57% receive equity, according to Brightflag’s 2023 Legal Operations Compensation Survey. The second annual survey, which was conducted in partnership with Legal Operators, featured 405 qualified respondents. Brightflag is an AI-powered legal operations platform, and Legal Operators is a community of legal ops professionals.
The rising pay for legal ops chiefs is a reflection of the growing importance these leaders play in legal departments, particularly during tough economic times.
“Historically, the chief legal officer or general counsel’s right hand has been another senior attorney, such as the head of litigation,” said Kevin Cohn, Brightflag’s chief customer officer. “As senior leaders recognize the criticality of operations, legal ops chiefs are moving into this coveted right-hand position and seeing their compensation increase accordingly.”
The most highly compensated legal ops chiefs work in California and come from diverse gender and ethnic backgrounds, according to the Brightflag survey. Some of these professionals lead legal departments with 51-100 employees.
The highest total compensation package reported by a legal ops leader was $760,000. This professional possesses more than 20 years of experience. Additionally, four respondents reported making $650,000 or more.
While ops leaders in legal departments with more than 100 employees reported average total compensation that was 26% higher than last year’s average, ops chiefs working in departments with 51-100 employees reported average total compensation that was 21% higher than 2022.
The gender pay gap among legal operations leaders eased slightly, the report said. However, women and non-binary people are still paid 9% less than men with the same title.
Other ops roles
For legal operations professionals in other roles, total compensation remained flat overall.
Additionally, professionals in those roles with more experience on average reported higher compensation than those with less experience.
The average total compensation for legal operations professionals in non-leadership roles was $144,000 across all experience levels and $176,000 among professionals with more than 20 years of experience.
Roughly 69% of these ops employees report receiving a cash bonus and 42% report receiving equity. The gender pay gap for these legal operations roles is 23%.
Additionally, pay is 30% higher for legal operations professionals with law-practicing backgrounds. This statistic remained stable from last year's report, according to Brightflag.
The 2023 survey was conducted from Jan. 10, 2023, to Feb. 17, 2023. Respondents represented 34 U.S. states and 29 countries.
The 405 qualified survey respondents was up from 241 who responded to last year’s survey.
“While transparency around salaries has improved somewhat with the introduction of pay transparency laws, many challenges remain in understanding fair market compensation for legal operations roles,” a press release about the 2023 report said. “This survey is designed to ease that struggle and shine a light on fair compensation for legal operations work.”