The chief lawyer at a hospital is known as its general counsel. Sometimes referred to as in-house counsel, this licensed attorney provides legal representation for the medical facility. The general counsel advises on tax laws, government healthcare regulations, and collective bargaining. Like many attorneys, general counsels at hospitals often earn six-figure salaries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers averaged $130,880 a year, as of 2012. Those acting as general counsel for hospitals brought home closer to $150,340 annually. This was an increase of nearly 3 percent from the previous year, when salaries averaged at $146,590. A survey by the American Health Lawyers Association found that half of all in-house counsel earned at least $175,500 a year -- an increase of nearly 10 percent between 2009 and 2011.
According to the American Health Lawyers Association, salaries of the top 25 percent of in-house counsel often exceeded $223,750, as of 2011. In fact, nearly 8 percent of respondents reported salaries in excess of $300,000 a year. Those in the bottom 25 percent earned less than $138,220 a year, with some of the lowest reported wages falling between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. Of respondents in this range, the majority were junior associates.
Other Medical Settings
Healthcare-related general counselors at physicians' offices earned the highest average salaries in 2012 at $241,870 -- 61 percent higher than at hospitals. General counsel at specialty hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturers earned $176,710 and $166,220, respectively. At outpatient care facilities, general counsel averaged $147,680 a year -- roughly 2 percent less than those at general hospitals.
The BLS expects employment opportunities for lawyers to grow 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, compared to 14 percent for all U.S. occupations. That equates to about 78 new jobs at general medical hospitals.