Inside Track: A Changing Landscape: The Economics of Practicing Law:

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  • November

    A Changing Landscape: The Economics of Practicing Law

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    Nov. 20, 2013 – Data reported for calendar year 2012 in the State Bar’s 2013 Economics of Law Practice Survey can guide you in making independent decisions about the business side of your law practice. In this video, State Bar Practice Management Advisor Nerino Petro highlights information regarding typical attorney flat rate charges, private practice billing rates, hours per week, billing methods, and more.

    The last survey was released in 2008, and the 2013 survey provides some helpful results such as hourly rates based on location in the state, and average fees for items such as wills, powers of attorney, deeds, and directives to physicians.”

    “The survey shows that while the economy has been down, the profession has not taken a step backwards,” said Petro. “We are seeing some upward trends on global rates.”

    Some 2012 Statistics:

    • Among private practitioners, 78 percent had an average hourly rate of $229, up from $188 in 2008. Hours worked per week has increased from 42 to 47 hours per week.

    • Full-time in-house corporate counsel earned a median salary of $156,000, and they spent an average of 48.7 hours a week in work-related activities.

    • The median salary for government lawyers (state agency attorneys, public defenders, public prosecutors, academics, court commissioners, judges, and so on) was $108,000, and they spent an average of 46.5 hours a week in work-related activities.

    • After hourly billing, the next two most common billing methods were flat fees (57 percent) and contingent/results-based fees (34 percent).

    • Nine in 10 lawyers report they practice full time. The number is similar to 2008.

    • The amount of uncollected fees is seven percent; down from 13 percent in 2008. 

    Median Gross Income by Practice Setting & Gender in 2012

      Private Practice Corporate Counsel Government*
    All Attorneys $99,996 $156,000 $105,000
    Female $72,000 $144,996 $90,000
    Male $114,000 $156,000 $109,200

    *Group comprises government, public service or academic attorneys, and judges.

    Top Four Private Practice Services Offered & Median Typical Flat Rate Charge in 2012

      Offered Flat Fee Charged
    Simple Will 40% $200
    Power of Attorney 38% $100
    Deed Preparation 36% $100
    Directives to Physicians 30% $75

    Average Private Practice Billing Rates for Associates

    Level of Experience 2007 2012
    None $144 $166
    1-4 Years $154 $182
    5-9 Years $176 $206
    10+ Years $198 $234

    Read “A Changing Landscape: The Economics of Practicing Law” in the November Wisconsin Lawyer magazine.

    Full Report is Available to Help Guide Your Practice Management Decisions

    For attorneys looking for in-depth information, the full Economics of Practice in Wisconsin: 2013 Survey Report, based on 2012 data, provides the detail needed to get a fuller view of the economic picture of practicing law in Wisconsin. By applying your own data against the survey's aggregate results, you'll see how your individual practice compares. The survey report's straightforward information, charts, and tables can help you make independent decisions to manage your practice more efficiently and effectively. Separate sections cover private practitioners (both solo and in group practices), government/academic attorneys, and corporate attorneys and in-house counsel.

    The survey report includes:

    • Top areas of practice
    • Private practitioner net income, by demographics
    • Private practitioner hourly billing rates
    • Private practitioner billing methods
    • Office expenses and revenues
    • Law office support staff salaries
    • Work volume for each category (private practice, government/academic, corporate)
    • Benefits by employer category
    • Billing and timekeeping practices
    • Trends in marketing legal services
    • Perceptions of the supply and demand for legal services
    • Change in workload over past two years and over next two years
    • Changes made in billable hours policy

    The 2013 survey report is available to State Bar members for $79/electronic PDF or $99/print. Order online or call the State Bar at (800) 728-7788.

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