General Counsel Aren’t the Only Ones Who Are Overpaid


After the recent release of the list of highest paid general counsel, we though it would be appropriate to put money making in perspective. Some our readers may now think there is a light at the end of the tunnel, hope for a future of riches.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re way less likely to be on this list than you are to make partner at your firm. But you can always dream. After all, the number 1 man on the list, Russel Deyo made over 4 mill and, everyone one of the 100 members of the list earned 1 million and that list didn’t include some high ranking GC’s like Goldman’s Gregory Palm because his salary wasn’t disclosed.  According to Above the Law, he’s cashed in to the tune of around $10 mill a year for the past decade. Considering how much damage Goldman has done to this great country, we’d say he might be a tad overpaid. However, we wanted to put things in perspective, so we came up with a list of similarly overpaid people in other professions.


1Sports – Rashard Lewis – 2011 Earnings – $20m. This uber soft forward on the Washington Wizards makes a superstar salary, but he’s not even one of the top 50 players in the NBA, possibly outside of the top 100 at this point. He’s made only one All-Star team and completely disappears in any sort of crunch time situation.

Though, there was a rumor swirling around that he slept with Lebron’s James girlfriend/baby mama during the NBA finals. So maybe what he lacks in on our court skill, he makes up for in bedroom prowess.

Runner up: Gilbert Arenas, gets paid almost as much and stinks almost as much at basketball, but at least he’s exciting. And by exciting we mean the guy brought guns into the locker room to threaten a teammate.

2TV – Ryan Seacrest – Earnings  – $55m.  We still can’t figure out exactly what this guy does. Is he the world’s most highly paid greeter? In addition to his $15 million per year for American Idol, Seacrest hosts a radio show, produces the Kardashian reality show franchise for E! (where he is also the managing editor and lead anchor for E! news) and Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution. Okay, so maybe he does keep himself pretty busy, and in 2011, is the argument “he doesn’t really have any talent” really worth addressing.

Runner up: Everyone named Kardashian, except Kim, we can’t  put a price on staring at her rear end.

3Music – Justin Bieber – Earnings – $53m (from May 2010- May 2011, according to Forbes). Justin scored his salary from the combination of his film Never Say Never (grossing $100 million), his new album My World 2.0, and his live shows around the world (tickets brought in $600,000 in gross sales per night). Imagine what kind of money the kid will be pulling in when he hits puberty. Hopefully, a lot less as his looks fade and his hairline recedes. We at Bitterlawyer hope to see him in 20 years on Celebrity Rehab.
Runner up: Selena Gomez. Don’t worry, someday soon, she’ll be making more than Justin and we won’t understand why either.

4Oil and Gas – Ray Irani – Earnings- $76m (2010) – Occidental Petroleum. The CEO list is filled with overpaid stock killing windbags. However, we reserve the overpaid tag for a guy who helms a large oil company.  An oil company that recently supported California’s Proposition 23 which would have overturned the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.  On the bright side: at least they didn’t dump billions of gallons of poisonous toxins into the ocean…that we know about.

Runner Up: BP former CEO, Tony Haward. He was finally kicked to the curb after helming one of the greatest environmental disasters of all time, but to the tune of an $18 M severance package. On the bright side, he was literally sent to Siberia, to work at a company outpost.

5Automotive – Alan Mulally – Earnings- $26.5m (2010) Ford Motors.

Yes, the same company that we, the taxpayers, spent billions to bail out. Yes, Ford is still the same Ford that makes mediocre automobiles. Yes, this number is accurate. We don’t really know what else to say except that he should be ashamed of himself.

One more guy that we thought deserved honorable mention was Louis C. Camilleri: $20.6m – CEO Philip Morris. You make cigarettes. Cigarettes Kill People. By our logic you’re getting paid to kill people. A lot. Way more than any soldier.

So while many general counsel in 2011 are overpaid, it’s barely a drop in the bucket compared to this list of overpaid a-holes.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aresauburnphotos/2678453389/)

Bitter Staff is a collection of current and former editors, contributors, and various other lawyers who have written for Bitter Lawyer over the years. Posts include interviews, contests, and other general lawyerly and bitter content.

7 Comments

  1. Fact Checker McCheckerson

    July 27, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Maybe you guys should do a little research. Ford pretty famously declined any bailout money and has posted profits for nine straight quarters.

    So the other guys, sure, but the CEO of a corporation that made 2.7 billion in profits this past quarter without touching federal bailout money probably earned his keep.

  2. Sydney

    July 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

    FYI: Ford didn’t accept bailout money. They mortgaged their property and have successfully paid off these loans in the last year. But you know, nice research skills.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/10/ford-bailout-money-unnece_n_149824.html

  3. Ellen

    July 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I would like to be a General Council for a big company. My father said I should do this but I never KNEW what kind of money they make.

    I would not think they would automaticly hire me for this, but mabye they would since I would tell them I could work alot harder then others on the job.

    I would not want to work to hard as a General Council, and would deligate tasks to my assistant council’s.

    This article does NOT say how I can applly for these jobs. Can you have another articel telling us how we can qualify?

    Thank you.

  4. GC Screening Committee

    July 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Dear Ellen:

    This one’s for you:

    “Wanted: General Counsel needed for boiler room
    operation; no experience with securities or other laws
    needed; all letters will be prepared for your signature;
    low cut blouses required.”

    • Bill

      July 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      So far, I’ve found no credible evidence that Ellen is cute. Dumb, maybe, cute, jury still out.

      • Strenuous Objector

        July 28, 2011 at 7:04 am

        As they say, pic or it didn’t happen. In this case, no pic means definitely not cute/probably a man.

  5. Snooder

    July 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I’d like to see some figures on just how likely making GC at a fortune 500 company is versus making it in the NFL. Just off the top of my head, there are only 500 Fortune 500 companies and how many players in the NFL?

    It would be kinda hilarious if that asshole in high school who bet his life on becoming a star athlete actually had the better life plan.

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