How Much Do CFOs in Law Firms Earn? A Salary Guide

Discover key insights on CFO law firms salaries in this comprehensive guide. Learn about compensation, influencing factors, and industry trends.
How Much Do CFOs in Law Firms Earn? A Salary Guide


If you are curious about CFO law firms salaries, you've come to the right place. On average, chief financial officers (CFOs) in U.S. law firms earn impressive salaries, reflecting their crucial role in managing financial operations and driving profitability. Here's a quick summary:

  • Average Salary: $433,088 per year
  • 25th Percentile: $328,098 per year
  • 75th Percentile: $555,618 per year
  • Top Metro Areas: New York ($701,510), Los Angeles ($670,285), San Francisco ($746,287)

CFOs in law firms are in high demand as they play a crucial role in boosting profitability, especially in uncertain economic times. For instance, a recent survey by ALM Global, LLC revealed that 93% of CFOs at Am Law 200 firms identified boosting profitability as their top priority. With annual compensation packages often exceeding $300,000, the financial rewards are substantial.

The following sections will delve deeper into the salary dynamics, the factors influencing these numbers, and how law firm CFO salaries compare to other industries.

Average salary of CFOs in law firms - cfo law firms salaries infographic pillar-4-steps

Average Salary of CFOs in Law Firms

When it comes to CFO law firms salaries, the numbers can be quite impressive. The median total pay for a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at a law firm like Stange Law Firm is around $225,000 per year. This figure includes both base salary and additional pay such as bonuses and stock options.

Breakdown of Compensation Packages

  1. Base Salary: The base salary for a CFO at a law firm typically ranges from $140,000 to $259,000 per year, with the average being $187,000. This makes up the bulk of the compensation, accounting for about 83.1% of the total pay.
  2. Bonuses: On top of the base salary, CFOs can also expect to receive bonuses. These can range from $29,000 to $53,000 per year, averaging around $38,000. Bonuses add an extra 16.9% to the total compensation package.

Stock Options and Additional Pay

In some cases, law firms may offer stock options, profit sharing, or other incentives to their CFOs. While this isn't as common in law firms as in tech startups or public companies, it can still be a valuable part of the compensation package. For instance, firms like Seyfarth Shaw have been known to hedge against economic downturns by offering more stable forms of compensation, including stock options.

Real-World Examples and Statistics

According to a survey by ALM Global, LLC, more than half of CFOs at Am Law 200 firms earn over $300,000 annually. This includes not just base salary and bonuses, but also other perks and benefits. For example, CFOs at larger firms in major cities like New York or San Francisco can expect to earn even more. In New York, the total compensation including bonuses can reach up to $701,510 per year.

Perks and Benefits

Beyond the base salary and bonuses, CFOs often enjoy a range of perks and benefits. These can include:

  • Healthcare and Pension Plans: Comprehensive healthcare and pension plans are standard.
  • Company Car or Driver: Some firms offer transportation perks.
  • Relocation Expenses: Especially for those moving to major financial hubs.
  • First-Class Travel: For business trips, first-class flights and accommodations can be expected.
  • Office Perks: Dedicated parking spaces, large offices, and private bathrooms.

Comparison to Other Sectors

Interestingly, the average salary for a CFO in the general U.S. market is higher than in law firms. According to, the median annual compensation for a CFO in the U.S. is $433,088. This shows that while law firm CFOs earn substantial salaries, there is a significant difference when compared to other industries.

In summary, the compensation for a CFO at a law firm is not only competitive but also comes with a variety of perks and benefits. The next section will explore the factors that influence these salaries, such as firm size, revenue, and geographic location.

Factors Influencing CFO Salaries in Law Firms

When it comes to CFO law firms salaries, several key factors come into play. These include the size of the firm, its revenue, geographic location, and prevailing economic conditions. Let's break these down:

Firm Size

Larger firms typically pay more. This is because they handle more complex financial operations and have greater resources. For example, CFOs at top-tier law firms like those in the Am Law 200 often earn higher salaries compared to those at smaller firms. According to a survey, more than half of CFOs at these large firms report earning $300,000 or more annually.


Higher revenue means higher pay. Firms with greater revenues can afford to pay their CFOs more. These firms also demand more from their CFOs, including sophisticated financial strategies and management. For instance, Seyfarth Shaw's CFO, Jay McAveeney, noted that even with economic uncertainties, the firm continues to raise rates to keep pace with inflation.

Geographic Location

Location matters. CFOs in major metropolitan areas like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago tend to earn more due to the higher cost of living and competitive talent market. For example, the base compensation for a CFO in New York is around $508,878, with total compensation including bonuses reaching $701,510.

New York City - cfo law firms salaries

Economic Conditions

The economy plays a role. During economic downturns, firms may be more cautious with their spending. However, many law firms still raise their rates and maintain competitive salaries for their CFOs. As noted in the research, 93% of CFOs at Am Law 200 firms prioritized boosting profitability despite economic challenges.

Summary Table of Influences

Factor Impact on Salary
Firm Size Larger firms pay more
Revenue Higher revenue, higher pay
Geographic Location Higher in major cities
Economic Conditions Can affect but often stable

Understanding these factors can help aspiring CFOs and current professionals navigate their career and compensation expectations. Next, we'll compare law firm CFO salaries to those in other industries to give a broader perspective.

Comparison of Law Firm CFO Salaries to Other Industries

When it comes to CFO salaries, law firms offer competitive compensation, but how do they compare to other industries? Let’s dive into the numbers and see how CFOs in law firms stack up.

Law Firm CFO Salaries vs. Other Industries

Law Firms: - The average salary for a CFO in a law firm is around $266,060 per year. This figure can vary based on the size of the firm and location. For instance, Stange Law Firm CFOs earn between $169K and $312K per year, with a median total pay of $225K.

Technology Companies: - In tech, CFOs often earn more due to stock options and bonuses. For example, Apple CFO Luca Maestri earned a base salary of $1 million in 2022, with total compensation exceeding $27 million when including stock incentives.

Healthcare: - CFOs in healthcare earn less on average than those in law firms. The average salary is $142,417 per year, according to ZipRecruiter. This figure excludes bonuses and stock options.

Non-Profit Sector: - Non-profit CFOs typically earn less, with average salaries around $159,666 per year. This reflects the budget constraints and different financial structures of non-profit organizations.

Hedge Funds: - CFOs in hedge funds can earn substantial salaries, with an average of $156,325 per year. However, this figure often increases significantly with bonuses and performance incentives.

Key Takeaways

  1. Higher Base in Tech: Technology companies often offer higher base salaries and substantial stock options, making them the top-paying sector for CFOs.
  2. Competitive in Law: Law firms provide competitive salaries, especially in larger firms and major cities.
  3. Moderate in Healthcare and Non-Profit: Healthcare and non-profit sectors offer moderate salaries, reflecting different financial dynamics and priorities.

Understanding these comparisons can help CFOs and aspiring professionals make informed decisions about their career paths. Next, we’ll explore the trends in law firm CFO compensation to see how these salaries are evolving over time.

Salary Increases

The role of a CFO in law firms has evolved significantly, leading to corresponding changes in compensation. According to a report by Compensation Advisory Partners, CFO salary increases edged out CEO increases in 2022, with CFOs seeing an average base salary rise of 5.5%, compared to 4.4% for CEOs. This trend reflects the growing complexity and importance of the CFO role, especially in law firms where financial management is crucial for maintaining profitability.

Performance Bonuses

Performance bonuses are a significant part of CFO compensation in law firms. These bonuses are often tied to the firm's financial performance, including metrics like profitability and revenue growth. For instance, at Stange Law Firm, the average additional pay for a CFO, which includes bonuses, is $38K per year, making up about 16.9% of their total compensation. This structure incentivizes CFOs to focus on strategic financial planning and cost management.

Stock Options

While stock options are more common in publicly traded companies, some larger law firms have started to offer them as part of their compensation packages. This trend is more prevalent in firms that are looking to attract top-tier financial talent from other industries. For example, equity awards remain a substantial part of total compensation for CFOs in various sectors, representing 56% of their total pay. However, this is less common in traditional law firms, which tend to rely more on base salary and performance bonuses.

Economic Impact

The economic climate has a direct impact on CFO compensation trends in law firms. During economic downturns, such as the recent recession fears, firms may become more conservative with salary increases and bonuses. CFOs like Pat Hennessy of Howrey have been reassessing their firm’s profitability outlook due to these economic pressures. Rob Burton of Holland & Hart emphasized the importance of developing countercyclical specialties, such as bankruptcy and white-collar crime, to offset declines in other areas.

Despite these challenges, many firms continue to raise rates to keep pace with inflation and maintain profitability. Seyfarth Shaw, for example, raised its rates by an average of 7% in 2008, even amid economic uncertainty. This approach helps firms hedge against potential delinquencies and bankruptcies, ensuring a stable revenue stream.

Understanding these trends can help current and aspiring law firm CFOs navigate their career paths more effectively. Next, we’ll discuss the qualifications and skills required to become a CFO in a law firm.

How to Become a CFO in a Law Firm

Becoming a CFO in a law firm is a journey that requires a mix of education, skills, and experience. Let's break it down step-by-step.

Career Path

Most CFOs in law firms start their careers in finance or accounting. They often hold positions such as financial analyst, controller, or director of finance before moving up to the CFO role.

Example: Laura E. Long, the Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer at Hanson Bridgett, likely followed a similar path, gaining experience in both financial management and operations.


Education: A Bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or a related field is essential. Many CFOs also hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

Certifications: Additional certifications like Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) can be beneficial.

Experience: A decade or more of relevant work experience is typically required. This includes roles in financial management, strategic planning, and possibly even legal compliance.

Skills: Key skills include financial analysis, strategic planning, risk management, and strong leadership abilities.

Skills Required

Financial Acumen: Understanding complex financial data and making strategic decisions based on that data is crucial.

Legal Knowledge: CFOs in law firms need to understand the legal industry, including regulatory requirements and compliance issues. This helps them make informed financial decisions that align with the firm's legal obligations.

Leadership: Leading a finance team and collaborating with other departments, especially the legal team, is essential.

Communication: Clear communication skills are vital for explaining financial data to non-financial staff and for negotiating with clients and vendors.


Bachelor's Degree: Start with a degree in finance, accounting, or a related field.

Master's Degree: An MBA or a Master's in Finance can provide advanced knowledge and open more doors.

Certifications: Consider getting certified as a CPA, CFA, or CMA to enhance your credentials.

Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest financial trends and regulations through courses and certifications.

Example: Rob Burton, director of finance at Holland & Hart, likely combines his financial expertise with a deep understanding of the legal industry's specific needs and challenges.

By following these steps and continuously honing your skills, you can position yourself as a strong candidate for the CFO role in a law firm. Next, we'll explore how law firm CFO salaries compare to those in other industries.

Frequently Asked Questions about CFO Law Firms Salaries

How much does a CFO of a 500 million dollar company make?

A CFO of a 500 million dollar company typically earns a substantial salary. On average, such CFOs can expect to make anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000 annually, including bonuses and stock options. Performance bonuses can significantly boost their total pay, especially if they successfully drive profitability and growth.

Which CFO makes the most money?

The highest-paid CFOs often work for major corporations, particularly in sectors like technology and finance. For instance, CFOs at companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google) are known for their hefty compensation packages. These packages can exceed $10 million per year, including base salary, bonuses, stock options, and other incentives.

How much do most CFOs make?

The average salary for a CFO in the United States varies widely based on several factors, including industry and company size. As of September 2023, the median compensation for a CFO was $433,088 per year. However, those in the bottom 25th percentile earned around $328,098, while those in the top 75th percentile earned up to $555,618 per year.

In the context of law firms, the estimated total pay range for a CFO at Stange Law Firm is $169K–$312K per year, with a median total pay of $225K. This includes a base salary and additional pay such as bonuses and profit sharing.

Next, we'll dive into the role of technology and automation in enhancing the efficiency and profitability of law firm CFOs.


When it comes to cfo law firms salaries, it's clear that the role is both lucrative and demanding. CFOs in law firms are tasked with maintaining profitability and navigating economic challenges. They also need to be adept at financial efficiency and automation to stay ahead.

Russell Rosario, CPA, and Co-founder at Profit Leap, is an expert in this field. His company offers financial and strategic consulting, bookkeeping, and business intelligence services tailored for small businesses. Russell's approach combines traditional financial strategies with cutting-edge technology to enhance profitability and streamline operations.

One of the key aspects Russell focuses on is automation. By integrating AI and other technological tools, Russell helps law firms reduce manual tasks, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. This not only saves time but also minimizes errors, leading to more accurate financial reporting and better decision-making.

Another area where Russell excels is profitability. He uses sophisticated financial analysis to identify areas where firms can cut costs without compromising on quality. This ensures that every dollar spent is contributing to the firm's bottom line.

Technology-driven approaches are also a cornerstone of Russell's strategy. By leveraging advanced software and analytics, Russell provides law firms with the insights they need to make informed decisions. This tech-savvy approach is critical in today's business environment, where staying ahead of the curve can make all the difference.

In summary, CFOs in law firms have a challenging yet rewarding role. With the right strategies and tools, they can significantly enhance their firm's financial health. And with experts like Russell Rosario providing guidance, law firms can navigate the complexities of today's financial landscape with confidence.

For more insights and services tailored to your firm's needs, visit our services page.

Russell Rosario

My insights for entrepreneurs on financial strategy and integrating AI into business operations come from my experience as a CPA, fractional CFO, and AI software engineer for over 100 businesses.

Russell Rosario

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Russell Rosario.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.