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The Average Legal Operations Manager Salary in 2024

Legal operations is a burgeoning field, yet there is a notable absence of benchmark data for legal operations salaries. HR teams typically rely on global databases such as the Radford database for salary benchmarking. While these databases are widely used for compensation and benefits benchmarking across various industries, they lack comprehensive data specifically for salaries in legal operations.

This means that salaries for legal operations roles are often benchmarked against other non-attorney roles in legal departments, such as paralegals or legal assistants. However, this approach fails to recognize the distinct scope and strategic contribution of legal ops roles.

At Brightflag, we understand the importance of accurate compensation benchmarking in the legal operations field. That’s why we collaborated with Legal Operators to create the 2024 Corporate Legal Operations Compensation Report. Our goal is to promote pay transparency in the industry and ensure that legal ops professionals, as well as those hiring for legal ops roles, have access to fair market compensation data.

The report covers roles in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe — providing a comprehensive analysis of compensation trends in these regions. In this article, we provide an overview of the trends analyzed in the report.

By understanding legal operations compensation trends, employers can effectively reward and retain experienced professionals, while legal operations professionals can strategically navigate their career paths to maximize their earning potential.

The Current State of Legal Operations Compensation

Legal operations is expanding across the globe and various industries. Participants in Brightflag and Legal Operator’s 2024 compensation survey work in 12 countries, 39 U.S. states, and more than 17 different industry verticals. This diversity underscores the growing importance and presence of legal operations in a wide range of regions and sectors.

Our research indicates that compensation in legal operations is influenced by a variety of factors. While job titles provide a basic structure for organizational hierarchy, the compensation landscape shows significant variation, even among professionals holding similar titles.

Despite the significant representation of women in legal operations roles, there is also a notable disparity in compensation between genders. On average, women earn 17%–25% less than their male counterparts, highlighting a persistent issue of pay inequality within the field.

Key Drivers of Legal Operations Compensation

We found that different factors influence compensation for specific legal operations roles.

The primary factor shaping compensation for heads of legal operations roles is the size of the department they oversee. Larger legal departments typically offer higher compensation for these positions, reflecting the increased scope and complexity of managing operations for larger teams.

In contrast, for all other legal operations roles, including middle management positions, the key determinant of compensation is the number of years of experience. As professionals gain more experience in the field, they typically command higher compensation, reflecting the accumulation of skills, knowledge, and expertise over time.

Understanding these dynamics is essential for both employers and professionals seeking to navigate and optimize compensation structures within the legal operations domain.

Compensation Benchmarks for Heads of Legal Operations Based on Department Size

In analyzing total compensation benchmarks for heads of legal operations in the U.S. based on department size, several key findings emerge. The data reveals a notable difference in total compensation for heads of legal operations based on the size of their departments:

  • Smaller departments with fewer than 10 people have a median total compensation of $148,000.
  • Mid-sized departments with 10 to 50 people show a median total compensation of $186,000.
  • Large departments with 51 to 100 people offer a median total compensation of $237,000.
  • Larger departments with more than 100 people offer a median total compensation of $283,000.

This data shows that as department size increases, so does compensation, highlighting the significant impact of department size on compensation levels.

The increasing compensation reflects the likely increase in the complexity of responsibilities and the strategic influence required as the department size grows. Heads of legal operations in larger departments may manage more extensive teams and have broader responsibilities, justifying higher compensation.

While we report on the median compensation here, it’s essential to note that there is a wide range of compensation within each department size category. For further insights and a detailed analysis, please refer to the full report here.

Compensation Benchmarks Based on Years of Experience for Non-Heads of Legal Operations Roles

We discovered that years of experience have a significant impact on compensation for non-heads of legal ops:

  • Professionals with less than five years of experience typically earn a median total compensation of $89,000.
  • Professionals with 5–10 years of experience typically earn a median total compensation of $105,000.
  • Professionals with 11–20 years of experience typically earn a median total compensation of $132,000.
  • For professionals with over 20 years of experience, median total compensation is $150,000.

This data clearly shows a progressive increase in compensation as years of experience increase. This trend indicates that experience is a significant factor in determining compensation for non-heads of legal operations roles. The increase in median total compensation with increasing experience suggests an appreciation for the wealth of knowledge and skills associated with a longer track record in the field. In turn, this suggests considerable room for career growth and advancement in legal operations. Professionals can expect their compensation to rise as they gain more experience and expertise.

Senior-level roles command the highest compensation, indicating the value placed on experienced professionals who bring extensive knowledge and leadership capabilities to their roles.

More detailed analyses and additional insights are provided in the full report.

Download the 2024 Corporate Legal Operations Compensation Report

We’ve explored how department size and years of experience all play a role in determining compensation. To delve deeper into the insights provided in this blog post and gain a comprehensive understanding of legal operations compensation trends, download the full 2024 Corporate Legal Operations Compensation Report.

You can utilize the data from the report to inform your compensation strategies, whether you are an HR professional seeking to benchmark salaries or a legal operations professional negotiating fair compensation packages. Additionally, the insights can provide clarity on how compensation trends align with years of experience and department size, empowering you to plan and make strategic career decisions.

Kevin Cohn, Chief Customer Officer

Kevin Cohn

Chief Customer Officer at Brightflag

Kevin has extensive experience building cloud workflow, productivity, and analytics companies. Prior to joining Brightflag, Kevin was Chief Operating Officer at Atypon, a publishing software company (acquired by Wiley), and SVP of Operations at Smartling, a language translation technology and services platform (acquired by Battery Ventures). A Member of the Advisory Board of Legal Operators, Kevin is a passionate advocate for the development of the legal operations industry and the professionals working in it.