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Apple Legal Chief Adams Saw Pay Near $27 Million in 2021 (1)

Jan. 7, 2022, 4:08 PMUpdated: Jan. 7, 2022, 8:04 PM

Apple Inc. paid general counsel Katherine Adams $26.9 million in 2021, a slight increase in her total compensation from the previous year.

Adams last year received $21.9 million in stock awards, $4 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation, and a $1 million base salary, according to Apple’s proxy statement filed late Thursday.

She was paid $26.4 million in 2020, according to a proxy last year. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company paid Adams $25.2 million in 2019 and $26.7 million in 2018.

Apple hired Adams in 2017 from Honeywell International Inc. to replace its retiring former legal chief, Bruce Sewell. Adams, a former federal prosecutor, spent nearly a decade doing litigation work at Sidley Austin in New York before joining Honeywell in 2003. The conglomerate promoted Adams to general counsel in 2008.

She also previously clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen Breyer, working for the latter when he served as chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Apple, which last month postponed return-to-office plans for its employees due to a spike in coronavirus cases, got good news this week when it exited a proposed class action and saw a federal judge in California dismiss a lawsuit accusing the its App Store of being a monopoly.

App Store-related antitrust litigation is among the more pressing legal obstacles still facing Apple, which has been involved in a long-running dispute over its lucrative business with video game and software developer Epic Games Inc.

In September, a federal judge determined Apple didn’t have an illegal monopoly over mobile gaming transactions though curbed some App Store practices.

Apple, which also has several intellectual property cases on its docket, is in the process of decentralizing its operations to rely less on Silicon Valley and bring in-house parts of its business it previously outsourced.

Adams, Apple’s top lawyer, took home more in total compensation than at least two Big Tech law department leader counterparts during fiscal 2021.

Microsoft Corp.’s president and chief legal officer Bradford Smith and Oracle Corp.’s general counsel Dorian Daley received almost $20.5 million and nearly $11.3 million, respectively, in total compensation last year, according to the most recent proxy statements filed by their employers.

Microsoft, which reorganized its legal group and appointed a new general counsel last year, gave Smith the additional role of vice chair in September.

Bloomberg Law reported earlier this week that Alphabet Inc.’s top lawyer, J. Kent Walker Jr., is getting a boost in his base salary to $1 million and $23 million in stock grants this year. Walker’s pay package from Google’s corporate parent was $51 million in 2020. Alphabet will file its 2021 proxy later this year.

(Updates with Apple legal actions starting in sixth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at; John Hughes at