Pay Day: In-house up, associates way up, Citigroup CEO way down

By total coincidence today I stumbled upon three legal stories pertaining to compensation: for executives, in-house counsel and associates. The first is arguably more of a corporate governance story, but still highly significant to the legal community.

In what is perhaps the highest-profile example to date of “say on pay” revolt, Reuters is reporting that shareholders of Citigroup Inc. have voted against the board of directors’ pay plan for executives, including chief executive officer Vikram Pandit.

While first-quarter profit at Citigroup declined 2 per cent in the first quarter, the bank’s stock has been on a tear recently, up more than 33 per cent this year. Even the company’s 2-per-cent decline, ironically, beat estimates on Wall Street, pushing the stock up 3.9 per cent in afternoon trading. Read the story here.

In-house counsel, meanwhile, have more upbeat news to look forward to. In its bi-annual In-House Compensation Report, InsideCounsel reports a moderate increase in wages for corporate counsel and a lifting of recessionary salary freezes.

“There is a widespread feeling among employers that the legal talent pool is drying up,” says editor-in-chief Cathleen Flahardy in a press release. “As a cost-saving measure, many GCs recommend that prospective attorneys supplement their law degrees with business degrees.”

Click here to read the special report.

And finally, some phenomenal news for associates–at least, those who work for IP boutiques in Manhattan. Elie Mystal at is reporting that Desmarais, the firm launched in 2010 by John Desmarais (formerly of Kirkland & Ellis), has boosted the entry-level salary of associates to $180,000.

That’s about $10,000 more than what Manhattan associates were being paid before the crash and about $55,000 more than the average starting salary for a Harvard Business School MBA entering finance or consulting. Read that one here.

So, while executives are fearing the wrath of shareholders and in-house counsel are experiencing moderate recovery, IP associates in Manhattan are jumping for joy. Is there such a thing as a “trickle-up” economy? If I were a top earner, I’d certainly hope so.

David Dias

One comment on “Pay Day: In-house up, associates way up, Citigroup CEO way down


  1. Proxy Schadenfreude: ISS parent gets failing grade on governance | Lexpert Magazine - Blog - May 2, 2012

    […] compensation for top executives there, including a $15-million pay day for CEO Vikram Pandit. (I blogged about it in this space not so long […]

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