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Wake Up Call: Top Women GCs Outearn Male Counterparts in 2020

Sept. 15, 2021, 12:32 PM

In today’s column, Microsoft added vice chair to the title of its president and top lawyer, Brad Smith; Cooley leased a floor of a new Chicago office tower, while Jenner & Block moved to new space in L.A.; former SEC general counsel Robert Stebbins returned to Willkie Farr & Gallagher as a partner.

  • Leading off, women general counsel at top companies outearned their male counterparts for the first time in 2020, according to a recent report from corporate data company Equilar and executive search boutique Barker Gilmore. The report, analyzing SEC filing data from Equilar 500 companies, said that in 2020 women general counsel earned $3 million “at the median,” topping a median $2.7 million earned by male GCs. (
  • Microsoft Corp. Tuesday said its board approved the promotion of its president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, to vice chair. Smith, who joined Microsoft from Covington & Burling in 1993, continues to report to Satya Nadella, the company’s chairman and CEO. (PR Newswire) (Seattle Times)
  • Cooley leased a full floor in a new 55-story Bank of America tower for its new office in Chicago, joining several other Big Law firms in that building. The California-based firm plans to move into the 30,000 foot space in 2022’s second quarter. (Crain’s Chicago Business) Cooley’s deal is good news for office landlords, after many companies downsized office space during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Real Deal)
  • Cooley, and Chicago-based Jenner & Block, which recently moved its L.A. office to a new 23,000-square-foot space, are among several big firms that have recently moved or redesigned office space in important markets, as they focus on the “future of work.” (

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Starting salaries for district attorneys range from just $40,604 in Manchester, N.H., up to $127,518 in San Jose, Calif., according to data compiled for local D.A.’s in the 50 states by BigLaw Investor; a group representing career prosecutors at the Justice Department is demanding the department revise its pay system to address lack of equity. (Government Executive)
  • O’Melveny & Myers said it is hooking up with exercise equipment and media company Peloton Interactive, Inc. to create a corporate wellness program for its U.S. lawyers and staff. (

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Former Securities and Exchange Commission general counsel Robert Stebbins returned to Willkie Farr & Gallagher as a partner and head of its corporate governance practice. Before he was appointed to lead the SEC in 2017, Stebbins worked at Willkie 24 years, including as a partner; Reed Smith hired away Jones Day bank regulatory partner Lisa Ledbetter as a partner in Washington. She’s former VP and deputy general counsel at Freddie Mac, was in-house at the FDIC, and U.S. Treasury Department; Goodwin Procter snagged Greenberg Traurig investment funds shareholder Michael Aluko as a partner in New York. (
  • Holland & Knight got DLA Piper corporate and private equity attorney Alvin Johnson as a partner in Atlanta; Murphy & McGonigle recruited financial services lawyer Ross Pazzol, a former assistant general counsel for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, in Chicago as a partner; Nixon Peabody poached Holland & Knight real estate partner Laura Sugarman as a partner in New York. (
  • Squire Patton Boggs hired veteran sports lawyer Steve Bainbridge as a partner in Dubai and head of the firm’s Middle East sports & entertainment group; Greenberg Traurig expanded its entertainment & media practice, grabbing Manatt music partner Charles J. “Jeff” Biederman as a shareholder in Los Angeles; Withers added former Littler shareholder and Cooley of counsel Ann Wicks as an employment partner in San Francisco; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett hired Latham & Watkins energy partner Chris Bennett as a partner in Houston; Manatt brought in former Massachusetts federal prosecutor Karin Bell as a partner in Boston in its investigations, compliance and white collar defense practice; Wilson Elser promoted nine attorneys, including three women, to partner, across seven U.S. offices. (

Legal Education

  • The principal-owner of the Minnesota Vikings, an alumnus of New York Law School, donated $5 million to the school to help its efforts to retain diverse students and support their work with social justice programs and leaders. (New York Law Journal)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer in New York at; Darren Bowman at

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