Trends in Privacy Law Compensation

There is a strong need for in-house mid-to-senior level corporate privacy protection counsel. Our data trends indicate that compensation packages have increased significantly over the past few years. Base salaries are up, sign on bonuses have become more common, and equity packages are more aggressive.

The Candidate profile

A rock star candidate should have at least five serious opportunities on their plate in this market. If you don’t, read on.

Hiring companies are interested in lawyers with a significant privacy focus for the long term. They are looking for not only applicants with demonstrated ability, but also those who are a match culturally, philosophically about data, and stylistically.

The ideal candidate is 6-10 years out of a top 50 law school (2008-2012 JD range). He or she is BigLaw trained, ready to make or has made the first jump in-house, and looking for a role to lead on projects but not to manage (for example counsel/senior counsel types who are not yet a general counsel).

The overall biggest issue facing hiring companies is the lack of differentiation in potential candidates. Digging into this, we can share points that add up to exacerbate the in-house hiring dilemma.

  • More law privacy Associates are making Partner, and thus the up or out pressure isn’t what it once was.
  • Comp is relatively similar across groups of candidates, so attracting someone who likely has five other offers from peer competitors is tough – if one competitor is willing to increase comp, that can be game changer.
  • Candidates are savvy when it comes to understanding why a location/company makes sense for them and their career. They want to be sure that they will be able to be successful in the role, and they want to be able to have an impact in some appropriately meaningful way for their level.

This leads to challenges in the job market. Candidates must succinctly communicate experience, style, and business enablement attitude to the potential employer. Being able to explain what you do, how you do it, and how you add value in a way that’s appreciated by lawyer and a non-lawyer is a skill that takes practice.

With all this to do in what can be a brief 30 minute phone call, candidates also need to be a person and not a robot. At the end of the day, we spend a crazy number of hours with our colleagues – candidates need to be the person in which other see value listening to and being around.

Client Search Profiles and Compensation

Here are recent in-house corporate privacy protection compensation data trends:

SilVal F100 company: Recent hiring target is $250k +25% + equity. Packages vary between $210k to $250k base with 20-25% equity.

SilVal F500 company: $240k + 20% + equity.

Wash State F200 company: There are no immediately recent hire benchmarks. But massive placement history shows that a 6-8 year comes in at $220 to 240k guaranteed cash + equity, and an 8-10 individual contributor is $260 to $285k guaranteed cash + equity. The major difference is cost of living and no state income tax.

SilVal F600 company: This company initially made an offer to 7th/8th year at $225k + 20% + equity (value unknown). The candidate had an offer from a F500 SilVal fintech company that countered with $275k +25% + equity. The candidate took the second offer. We are working with them on this same benchmarking question. The company would like to keep it under a $230k base, but this remains to be seen.

SilVal F350 company: They have an offer out to a 8th year biglaw candidate who would have to move from the east coast to SilVal. The offer is $235k base + 25% bonus + 150k equity. They are also offering to prorate the $75k bonus the candidate would walk away from and pay it as a sign on.

SilVal F450 company: There are two searches, ballpark 7-10 years. The comp midpoint is $240k base + 25% + equity.

SilVal F500 company: $230k + 25% + equity for a 6-8-year range)

Other notables:

SilVal F500 company: Search for 4-6 years, $200k + 20% + equity)

SanFran F100 company: Search for 6-8 years, $200-250k base + 25% + equity

Major E-Commerce client: Search for inhouse experience, management experience and broad consumer privacy w/ GDPR….8-11 years of experience target comp 200k base +25% cash bonus plus equity award.

The Issue of Privacy

Privacy and data security is top of mind for all companies, regardless of size and industry. According to Bloomberg Law, ten or fifteen years ago the area of privacy law began to grow as a specialty for healthcare and financial services industry sectors. Today, the need for legal privacy expertise has expanded and is in demand by many growth-oriented businesses.

There is also the reality that GDPR, a major new regulation, is brand new – no one is a career-long expert. Companies are looking for candidates who can demonstrate an understand of the issues and underlying theme, so that they can have a level of comfort moving forward.

In our last article, 4 Privacy Trends to Watch in 2018, ZwillGen shared their thoughts on the top privacy trends affecting companies from a legal standpoint. These issues are reflected in corporate hiring practices as seen in our market data.

  • Internet of Things devices bring about highly unregulated data that can create privacy and security issues.
  • Children privacy cases and guidance will grow with the increase of advertising data and connected toys.
  • Emerging Technologies will require additional FTC policy and enforcement.
  • Personal data and cyber security concerns continue to be a concern.

What’s Driving Hiring Trends?

Simple market economics. The demand for talent has far outpaced supply. Companies are not looking for mere exposure to the issues, they are looking for talent with the ability to engage directly with the business and, with an eye towards business enablement, advise them on how the business can manage reasonable risks while accomplishing their business goals. With hundreds of companies hiring, many for multiple positions, there simply aren’t enough rock stars to go around.

To meet the growing demand for legal privacy expertise, companies must prioritize the process of hiring great people and securing in-demand talent. To discuss in more detail contact H. Lawrence Brown, Esq. at (832) 819-3580 or email

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