first_imgSurvey finds lawyers are making more, using technology Mark D. Killian Associate Editor Salaries are up for Florida lawyers, and they are making greater use of technology in their practices, according to the Bar’s 2000 Economics and Law Office Management Survey. The average income for Florida lawyers rose by $7,000 over the past two years, while use of the Internet also saw a rise since the Bar’s last membership survey, with more than four-fifths of respondents reporting they’d been on-line during the last three months. Florida lawyers in private practice also reported spending on average 51 hours each week in the office down two hours from 1998 — and billing for 30 of those hours. The median 1999 income for Bar members was $82,000, up from $75,000 per year reported in 1998 and up $20,000 since 1996. Complete survey results may be obtained from the Bar’s Research, Planning and Evaluation Department by sending in the coupon at the end of this article. The survey also found the use of technology continues to grow, and that 84 percent of Bar members had used the Internet in the past three months, compared to 73 percent from two years ago and up from just 30 percent who answered the same question four years ago. The poll is taken every other year to keep lawyers informed on what their colleagues are doing in various areas of law office management. This year’s survey was completed by 715 lawyers from a sample of 2,410. The 30-percent response rate gives a four-percent margin of error, according to Bar Senior Research and Evaluation Analyst Mike Garcia. The survey found 76 percent of Florida lawyers are in private practice, while 17 percent are government lawyers or judges. The remainder work as corporate counsel, for legal aid offices or for other employers. Sixty-six percent of respondents report working in a firm or other legal setting with five or fewer lawyers, while 13 percent say they work with 25 or more attorneys. Salaries and Benefits Overall, 2000 income reported in the survey ranged from zero to $1.6 million. Associates fresh out of law school averaged $35,000 in 1999 — up $1,000 from the 1998 survey — while new law grads with some experience made $38,000. The median for lawyers with fewer than three years’ of experience was $42,000, compared with $50,000 for those in practice three to five years and $65,000 for those with six to eight years’ experience. Associates with more than eight years’ experience had a median income of $85,000, up $10,000 from two years ago. The survey found managing partners typically made $160,000; followed by partner/shareholders, $130,000; practitioners with one or more associates, $100,000; corporate counsel, $85,000; sole practitioners, $75,000; associates, $57,000; and state government lawyers, $45,000. Respondents reported 51 percent of their offices gross receipts in 1999 went to pay the lawyers in the office, while 19 percent went to support staff salaries, and the remaining 30 percent paid for all the other firm expenses. The survey also found that 50 percent of lawyers say the average cost advanced per client is between $100 and $1,000. Twenty-nine percent said that average is under $100, and 12 percent said the advanced costs average more than $2,000. The survey found 71 percent of firms offer medical insurance to their lawyers and 62 percent provide paid vacations. The survey also found that 68 percent of firms pay their lawyers’ Bar fees, 64 percent pay registration costs for CLE courses, 49 percent offer life insurance, 46 percent offer flexible work schedules, 40 percent award annual bonuses, 30 percent offer dental insurance, 29 percent have some form of profit-sharing plans, 12 percent reimburse the cost of taking the bar exam, and six percent pay college tuition. Fifty-five percent of lawyers said they carry malpractice insurance, with 88 percent of those who are insured carrying more than $250,000 in coverage. Thirty-seven percent of respondents carry more than $1 million in coverage. The survey also showed lawyers in the central/southwest part of the state are more likely to carry malpractice insurance (60 percent) than their colleagues in the southeast (52 percent) or northern part of the state (50 percent). Internet, Computer Use The poll found 85 percent of Florida firms and legal offices have Internet access, up from 76 percent in 1998. Younger lawyers tend to use the Internet more often than their older colleagues. The survey found 91 percent of lawyers under 35 used the Internet within the last three months, followed by 89 percent of lawyers 36 to 49, 75 percent of lawyers 50 to 65 and 52 percent of lawyers over age 65. Two years ago, only 36 percent of lawyers over 65 said they had used the Internet within the past three months. Of those respondents who use the Internet, more than half (56 percent) access it at least once per day. That also is a significant increase from the 38 percent who reported doing the same in 1998. Fifty percent of respondents said they have visited the Bar’s homepage (www.FLABAR.org), although less than one-third have visited the Bar’s site more than twice while 20 percent have visited the site five or more times. Twenty-five percent of lawyers said they would like the Bar to offer online CLE courses and online CLE registration/payment. Lawyers also are coming online in greater numbers than the nonlawyers in their firms. When asked who in their firm had Internet access, 76 percent said the lawyers, up from 66 percent in 1998, followed by secretaries (38 percent), paralegals (37 percent), other support staff (33 percent) and librarians (11 percent). Ninety-two percent reported their firms use computers for word processing and the most popular word processing software is WordPerfect, which is used by 75 percent of respondents, followed by Microsoft Word (39 percent). The survey also found that 90 percent of firms use Windows operating systems, up from 79 percent two years ago and 36 percent four years ago. Hiring and Demographics According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents said their firms did not hire any recently admitted lawyers in 1999, and 74 percent of private firms don’t plan on hiring any beginning lawyers in 2000. The survey showed that women make up 27 percent of the Bar’s membership, up one percentage point since 1998 and 15 percentage points since the economic survey was initiated in 1984. African-Americans make up two percent of the Bar, the same percentage as eight years ago, and Hispanic lawyers account for six percent of the Bar, the same as two years ago. The median age of a Bar member is 45, and 66 percent have belonged to the Bar for 10 years or more. The typical male lawyer has practiced for 17 years, while the typical female Bar member has practiced for 11 years. The median age of a male Florida lawyer is 47 and the median age of female Bar members is 42. Of those surveyed, 30 percent said they were sole practitioners, followed by 19 percent who describe themselves as partner/shareholders. Twelve percent said they were associates, 10 percent are managing partners, and five percent are practitioners with one or more associates. Ten percent said they worked for the state, four percent for local governments, two percent said they were judges, and less than one percent said they were federal government lawyers. Another five percent indicated they were corporate counsel, while less than one percent said they work for legal aid/legal services. More than one-third (35 percent) of male lawyers are either managing partners or partner/shareholders. Comparatively, 13 percent of all women lawyers are either managing partners or partner/shareholders. Over one-fourth (28 percent) of all female lawyers are employed in a government practice, compared with 12 percent of male attorneys. Billable Hours The poll showed 31 percent of Bar members billed fewer than 1,600 hours in 1999. Nine percent billed between 1,600 and 1,800 hours, 11 percent billed from 1,800 to 2,000 hours and 14 percent said they billed more than 2,000 in 1997. One third of all respondents (35 percent) said they do not maintain billable hours. When considering those respondents who keep personal billable hours, just over half (52 percent) report having more than 1,600 billable hours in 1999. Almost two-fifths (38 percent) report having more than 1,800 billable hours in 1999. Survey finds lawyers are making more, using technology August 15, 2000 Associate Editor Regular Newslast_img

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