The new OSB 2017 Economic Survey is available for download. In it, you’ll find a plethora of information about Oregon lawyers, including employment characteristics, compensation, billing practices, career satisfaction, and future plans. Here are a few highlights:
28.3% of survey respondents reported being a member of at least one other state bar.
86.1% reported working as an Oregon lawyer; 13.9% were not.
Lawyers who chose to work part-time did so to maintain work/family balance, pursue other career interests, or because they were semi-retired.
Slightly more than 60% of working Oregon lawyers reported being in private practice, with just under 20% in government positions.
The most dominant areas of private practice are business/corporate (transactional and litigation), civil litigation (plaintiff and defense), tax/estate planning, family law, and real estate/land use/environmental.
The most common practice size was a 1 lawyer office, followed by 3-6 lawyer offices, and 7-20 lawyer offices.
The statewide mean compensation was $143,277.
The amount of compensation was highest in the Portland metro area and lowest on the Oregon coast.
The highest paying area of practice was real estate/land use/environmental.
Statewide, female lawyers reported earning less than male lawyers.
Peak earning years were 50-59, with compensation generally decreasing after age 60.
Statewide, the mean hourly rate was $286, ranging from $226 to $324 regionally. (The highest reported hourly rate was $850 in Portland.)
By area of practice, the highest hourly rate was for business/corporate – litigation, with a mean of $333. Other top billing areas were: real estate/land use/environmental, civil litigation – defendant (excluding insurance defense), and business/corporate – transactional.
On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being very dissatisfied and 5 being very satisfied, lawyers statewide had a mean career satisfaction rate of 3.98. In general, the more years in practice, the greater a lawyer’s satisfaction with his/her career.
By location, employment, and area of practice, the most satisfied lawyers were:
In the Upper Willamette Valley
Working as judges or hearing officers
Practicing in civil litigation defense, real estate/land use/environmental, or criminal law (private bar).
19.2% of lawyers statewide reported they were planning or contemplating retirement.
6.7% were planning to leave the profession, but not retire.
Another 10.3% were planning to reduce their practices.
Law is both a profession and a business. So what pearls of wisdom did the experts at the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW have to say about the business side of law practice? Read on…
How Are We Doing?
According to Lexis’s Chris Anderson, over 50% of solos have no accounting software at all. @MrsMacLawyer RT @lawyerist (My 2 cents: true and sadly ineffective – the return on investment in purchasing quality billing and accounting software can’t be overstated.)
Law firms used to raise rates 10% a year; now just about 3% says @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
Calling a client that’s behind on payment is a hard thing to do; manage expectations — says Steve Best of @affinitytech @Business_of_Law
Lawyers are not comfortable having conversations about fees (both sides) – feels “salesy” and “confrontational” says @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
Setting Rates and Crafting Agreements: The Rule of 3
Law firm billing discounts are a 1-way street; once you give them, you’ll continue to give them; protect the price – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law (My thought: I don’t believe in continually marking down bills. I do believe in offering early payment discounts. The client saves money. The lawyer is paid more quickly. Win-win.)
Rule of 3 in law firm pricing: 1% cut in price = 3% cut in profit – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law
Rule of 3 defined: Attorney bills at $300/hr; 1st 100 is salary; 2nd 100 is law firm cost; 3rd 100 is profit – @gnawledge – @Business_of_Law