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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

January 21, 2016

I want to hire a superstar tech transactions lawyer with 12+ years of experience at the Sr. Director level. What do I need to pay to be competitive in this market to land him/her?


Julie Q. Brush

In today’s market, excellent technology transaction lawyers in this seniority range are in high demand. And some employers are paying premiums in order to land the best and the brightest. But the majority of candidates today are not driven solely by money. So you need to enter this process with a more comprehensive strategy in order to compete effectively. But to start, below is the current “market” compensation for this candidate profile:

  1. Large Public Company: $250k to $285k (between 25% – 35% target bonus + stock which is typically in RSU’s, but can be an RSU/Options mix)
  1. Mid-Size Public Company: $235k to $250k (typically 20%-30% target bonus + stock, typically an RSU grant, but can be an RSU/Options mix)
  1. Small Public Company: $225k – $240k (20% bonus + small RSU or RSU/Options grant)
  1. Private Company: $205k to $215k (between 0% – 30% target bonus + stock…options). In private companies, this lawyer almost always functionally serves as the General Counsel and is the only legal exec in the department. However title is not Sr. Director (or VP), but more commonly the Director of Legal Affairs.

In order to attract the highest quality candidate, you must be competitive on the compensation. But equally as important will be your ability to clearly articulate what this position offers and why the company itself is attractive. What differentiates your opportunity from the others in the market? Everyone on your hiring team should be on the same page regarding the answer to this question as well – and be able to clearly communicate it. A few distinguishing features this constituency cares about today include:

  • Career advancement opportunities (title and compensation)
  • Executive interaction
  • Opportunity to develop skills in new practice areas
  • Management responsibilities
  • Deal responsibilities
  • Less bureaucracy
  • Strong IPO prospects (for private companies)
  • Opportunity to transition to a new industry
  • Kinder, gentler culture
  • Flexible schedule

If you are conducting your search without the assistance of an external legal recruiter, you will see a lot of resumes. But only a very…very small number of candidates might be viable. The highest quality candidates will also be heavily pursued by other companies seeking to hire, which is why having an effective game plan is even more critical.

While important, being competitive on compensation is only the first step on the path to landing your superstar. Your value proposition must be compelling. Your message, crystal clear. Sprinkle in a swift and efficient process and a healthy dose of l.o.v.e…and you’ll be the shiniest penny in the market. Best of luck!

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