General counsel who are among the highest-paid executives at large Texas companies earned more on average in 2011 than in 2010, according to Texas Lawyer's annual Corporate Roster, which reports on GC compensation.
Compensation for chief legal officers at 51 large Texas companies averaged $2,198,109 in 2011, up 11.8 percent compared to an average of $1,966,590 at 48 large Texas companies in 2010.
It's the second year in a row that average total compensation for the GCs improved on a year-to-year basis, following two years of declines, and the highest average since 2007, when compensation averaged $1,991,410 for 51 general counsel at 51 Texas companies.
GC pay packages continue to exceed the average profits per partner at large Texas firms. In 2011, partners in the 25 highest-grossing firms in Texas made $924,280 on average, which is less than half of the $2,198,109 average compensation for the GCs at large Texas companies in 2011.
Wayne Watts, senior executive vice president and general counsel at AT&T Inc. in Dallas, heads the list of Texas' highest-paid GCs, with compensation totaling $8,505,373 in 2011, including equity valued at $3,407,689.
In an emailed statement, AT&T writes that it "remains committed to paying for performance, and Mr. Watts' compensation reflects this: in 2011, more than 85 percent of his target compensation was tied to performance.
"Mr. Watts' compensation also reflects his responsibilities as general counsel of one of the world's largest telecom companies and the 12th largest corporation in the United States. During 2011 he effectively guided the company's regulatory filings and compliance matters in addition to providing support for day-to-day operations and M&A activity -- and successfully managed litigation matters, including 158 appeals to various Federal and State Courts of Appeal and 10 to the United States Supreme Court."
Right behind Watts on the best-paid list are Robert Reeves of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; Larry Hutchison of Torchmark Corp.; and John Wombwell of Plains Exploration and Production Co.
All but six of the 51 general counsel on the best-paid list racked up at least $1 million in compensation in 2011, including the value of their equity compensation. That's more than in 2010, when 40 of the 48 general counsel on the best-paid list earned more than $1 million in compensation.
Texas Lawyer has reported on general counsel compensation in the annual Corporate Roster for the past 20 years.