Legal Business Blogs

GE’s top lawyer holds on to first place in compensation rankings with new entries from Blackstone and Coca Cola

The latest US general counsel (GC) compensation rankings have seen General Electric’s (GE’s) top lawyer Brackett Denniston hold on to first place despite a significantly reduced salary of $5.8m compared to 2012, as new entrants to the latest top 10 include Blackstone Group’s John Finley and Coca Cola’s John Parker.

Having been in the top spot since 2004, Denniston’s salary was nonetheless under half its 2012 level of $12.9m.

The rankings from Corporate Counsel, which reflect salary and bonus compensation but list separately full take-home pay including stock, show that Denniston’s total take home pay for 2013 remained at $5.8m.

In second place Bank of America’s Gary Lynch earned a cash compensation of $5.45m, although his total remuneration came in at $7.41m.

Shortly behind Lynch was 21st Century Fox’s Gerson Zweifach on $5.25m, followed by Time Warner’s Paul Cappuccio with just over $5m. However, including stock options, former Kirkland & Ellis partner Cappuccio was one of the biggest earners, taking home just shy of $15m in 2013.

A new addition to the top 10 at number five was New York-based Blackstone Group’s John Finley on $4.6m, with a take home pay of $6.75m.

He is followed by Walt Disney’s Alan Braverman, whose 2013 cash compensation was $4.2m but total take-home pay amounted to $19m, the highest in the top 10.

While Viacom’s Michael Fricklas and new Coca Cola entrant Parker earned $4.07m and $3.71m respectively, their take home pay was $17.1m and $15.5m.

Completing the top 10 were Google’s David Drummond who earned $3.65m, and Travelers Cos’ Alan Schnitzer, who earned £3.54m.

Another notable name in the top 100 is former Pfizer general counsel and executive leadership member Amy Schulman, whose high profile departure from the pharma giant last December made headlines, but took home a total $3.9m.

The figures showed that it was a lucrative year for many of America’s chief legal officers, with the publicly disclosed pay packages for the 100 best-compensated general counsel in 2013 on average going up.

The average base salary came in at $701,000 – an increase of 6.8% – while the average bonus rose by 8% to $1.2m and average bonus plus non-equity incentive compensation rose 6.3% to nearly $1.3m.