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Pay Cuts Continue to Sweep Across America’s Top In-House Lawyers

April 6, 2020, 9:46 AM

More C-suite lawyers are getting their compensation reduced as a result of the new coronavirus spreading throughout the U.S.

Bloomberg Law recently reported on how corporate bottom lines adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic were causing cuts to pay packages that relied upon more robust economic times.

General counsel experiencing executive reductions during the first week of April included the Walt Disney Co.’s Alan Braverman, MGM Resorts International’s John McManus, and Simon Property Group Inc.’s Steven Fivel. All three top in-house lawyers earned a collective $20 million in total compensation during 2019, according to proxy statements filed by their respective employers.

Earlier pay cuts affected law department leaders at Phoenix-based travel and events company Viad Corp. and Dodgeville, Wis.-based clothing and home décor retailer Lands’ End Inc. Derek Linde and Peter Gray each took 20% base salary cuts at Viad and Lands’ End, respectively, according to securities filings. Linde had a base salary of $358,288 last year, while Gray earned $564,769 in 2019, per proxy statements filed this week by both of their employers.

Other Cuts

More details on coronavirus-related compensation reductions for top in-house lawyers include:

Walt Disney: Bob Chapek, the entertainment giant’s new CEO, agreed to take a 50% pay cut to his base salary, while in-house legal chief Braverman was among several other top executives to get a 30% salary slash. Bloomberg Law reported in January that Braverman earned nearly $13.72 million in total compensation during 2019, of which $1.66 million was base salary.

MGM: The Las Vegas-based entertainment and hospitality company said that McManus would reduce his base salary from $850,000 to $700,000 and take half of that reduced sum in stock as of April 1. Bloomberg Law recently noted that McManus earned $3.03 million last year, of which $1.76 million was in cash.

SPG: Senior management at the largest U.S. shopping mall operator, which in February sought to acquire fellow real estate investment trust Taubman Centers Inc., are cutting their pay due to Covid-19. Fivel is taking a 30% reduction to his base salary, while assistant general counsel Alexander Snyder is taking a 25% pay cut. Fivel earned $3.21 million in total compensation last year, while Snyder took home $1.76 million, per a proxy filed April 2 by SPG. Fivel’s base salary was $634,615 and Snyder received $442,692.

iHeartMedia Inc.: Having emerged from bankruptcy last year, the San Antonio-based radio broadcasting leader saw general counsel Paul McNicol agree for the rest of the year to reduce his base salary by 10% and “forgo his ability to earn an incentive award” under the company’s annual bonus program, per an April 2 securities filing by iHeartMedia. The lack of an incentive award will reduce McNicol’s cash compensation by 47%, according to the company.

Destination XL Group Inc.: The specialty retailer for big and tall men’s apparel disclosed that as of April 5 it will temporarily reduce the base salaries of its entire management team, including chief administrative officer and general counsel Robert Molloy, who will take a 20% cut. Molloy’s base salary was $366,346 in 2018, the most recent year for which executive compensation information at the Canton, Mass.-based company is available.

Jason Industries Inc.: The Milwaukee-based manufacturer approved salary reductions for its executive team and other salaried workers, including a 25% pay cut for general counsel Kevin Kuznicki, for the period between April 1 and June 30. The most recent proxy filed by the company shows that Kuznicki’s base salary was $233,846 in 2018, the same year he joined the company from Adient plc, an automobile parts maker where he served as deputy general counsel.

Team Inc.: The suburban Houston-based engineering services company said that as of April 1 it had slashed by 15% the base pay rate for chief legal officer André “Butch” Bouchard, who has worked at Team since 2008. Bouchard earned $400,050 in base salary from the company in 2018, according to a proxy filed by Team last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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