1 THE ECONOMICS OF LAW PRACTICE IN NEW MEXICO LAWYER COMPENSATION SUMMARY OF RESULTS SEPTEMBER 2012
2 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 2 I. INTRODUCTION
3 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 3 The Economics of Law Practice in New Mexico Lawyer Compensation Summary of Results This study was commissioned by the State Bar of New Mexico. The objective of this study was to determine income levels among lawyers who are licensed to practice law in New Mexico. The study also assessed the fees charged for various legal services, the number of hours spent performing various services, changes in income, and billing practices. The survey was designed to capture economic information based on several variables including: the number of years practicing law, areas of practice, classification/legal occupation, firm size, region, gender, ethnicity and age. This self-administered study was conducted online and by mail. s were sent to lawyers practicing in-state which contained a link to the online survey and a unique password. A total of 4,951 invitations were sent. Members who do not have a listed address were sent a paper copy of the survey by mail. A total of 398 mail surveys were sent out. Both the Internet and mail surveys included a cover letter from the State Bar of New Mexico explaining the purpose of the study. The mail respondents were asked to return the completed surveys directly to Research & Polling, Inc. in a business reply envelope. Respondents were given approximately one month to complete the survey. Several reminder s and notices in the Bar Bulletin were sent over the course of the survey period encouraging members to participate. Of the 5,349 possible members who were eligible to participate in the study, a total of 809 surveys were completed which represents a response rate of 15%.
4 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 4 Question 2: Please indicate your total years of practice in law: TOTAL YEARS OF PRACTICE IN LAW TOTAL RESPONSES (N=809) 5 YEARS OR LESS 6 TO 10 YEARS 11 TO 20 YEARS 21 TO 30 YEARS 31 YEARS OR MORE Gender TOTAL SAMPLE MALE FEMALE 1 LAWYER/ Total Number of Lawyers In the Practice OR MORE PRACTICE Classification or Other Legal Occupation CITY, STATE OR COUNTY GOVERNMENT Ethnicity PARTNER/ SHARE- HOLDER ASSOC. HISP. ANGLO OTHER 16% 13% 20% 7% 15% 25% 22% 6% 19% 2% 57% 17% 14% 17% 12% 7% 18% 8% 16% 14% 13% 8% 16% 7% 20% 17% 10% 26% 23% 23% 23% 25% 21% 20% 23% 28% 30% 22% 10% 30% 21% 24% 25% 23% 27% 26% 22% 21% 27% 25% 22% 32% 7% 21% 26% 22% 24% 34% 12% 33% 26% 21% 14% 32% 12% 37% 8% 16% 29% 10% MEAN MEDIAN As shown above, approximately half (49%) of lawyers who participated in this study have been practicing law for 21 years or more and 23% have been practicing between 11 to 20 years. Sixteen percent of respondents have been practicing law for five years or less. On average (mean), survey respondents have been practicing law for 20 years. The median number of years practicing is also 20; thus, half the participants have been practicing for 20 years or more, while half have been practicing for 20 years or less. Overall, female attorneys tend to be younger and have been practicing law for a shorter period of time. Nearly two-fifths (38%) of the female respondents have been practicing law for ten years or less compared to just 20% of male respondents. The majority of the male respondents (57%) have been practicing law for 21 years or more. Hispanics and other minority attorneys also tend to have been practicing law for fewer years than Anglos. On average, the Anglo attorneys have been practicing for 22 years, compared to 18 years for Hispanics and 16 years for other minorities. The table above also shows that lawyers who work for city, county or state government and those who are associates have fewer years of legal experience when compared to others. On average, associates have been practicing for just 9 years, and city/county/state employees have been practicing law for 17 years. In comparison, the average for sole practitioners is 24 years and for partners/shareholders the average is 26 years.
5 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 5 Question 6: What is the total number of lawyers in the firm/organization in which you practice? 40% 35% 30% 25% 34% TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE FIRM/ORGANIZATION TOTAL RESPONSES (N=729) 27% 20% 15% 10% 15% 11% 13% 5% 0% 1 LAWYER OR MORE LAWERS As shown above, 34% of the respondents say they are the only lawyer in their firm/organization, while 27% are in a small firm of two to six attorneys and 15% are in a firm of seven to 15 attorneys. One-quarter of the respondents (24%) say they are in a firm or organization with 16 attorneys or more.
6 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 6 Question 4: Please indicate your classification or other legal occupation and your net income before taxes from this activity for the year Include all income derived from legal work. CLASSIFICATION AND OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION AND NET INCOME (BEFORE TAXES) FOR 2011 TOTAL RESPONSES (N=771) RANKED BY HIGHEST CLASSIFICATION PERCENTAGE CLASSIFICATION CLASSIFICATION PERCENTAGE MEAN (AVERAGE) SALARY MEDIAN SALARY PRACTITIONER 29% $95,713 $75,500 CITY/STATE/COUNTY GOVERNMENT 22% $66,971 $66,980 PARTNER/SHAREHOLDER 18% $175,014 $146,000 ASSOCIATE 12% $80,593 $78,333 PRACTITIONER SHARING SPACE 4% $112,333 $70,000 FEDERAL GOVERNMENT 3% $108,767 $104,000 LEGAL AID/LEGAL SERVICE 3% $53,923 $52,500 PRACTITIONER (WITH ONE OR MORE ASSOCIATES) 3% $198,136 $196,000 HOUSE COUNSEL 3% $131,053 $132,000 OTHER 1% $108,801 $77,500 The table above shows the average (mean) and median (midpoint where 50% fall above/below) net income levels (before taxes) for each professional classification. Overall, 29% of the survey respondents identify themselves as a sole practitioner with an average salary of $95,713 and a median salary of $75,500. Attorneys working for city, state or county governments (22% of respondents) made an average of $66,971 compared to an average of $108,767 made by lawyers working for the Federal Government. Eighteen percent of survey respondents identified themselves as being a partner/shareholder. This group reported an average income of $175,014 in 2011, with a median salary of $146,000. Associates made an average of $80,593.
7 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 7 INCOME BEFORE TAXES FOR 2011: OVERALL MEAN & MEDIAN TOTAL ABQ. METRO EAST- SIDE REGION GENDER UNM GRADUATE NORTH CENTRAL NORTH- WEST SOUTH- WEST MALE FEMALE YES NO MEAN $105,440 $109,823 $112,056 $99,559 $96,765 $91,843 $120,947 $84,391 $100,152 $116,471 MEDIAN $80,026 $83,806 $75,000 $80,000 $71,000 $80,500 $90,016 $70,045 $79,986 $84,958 TOTAL 5 OR LESS 6 TO 10 YEARS YEARS IN PRACTICE 11 TO 20 YEARS 21 TO 30 YEARS 31 YEARS OR MORE 1 Lawyer/ Sole NUMBER OF IN FIRM/ORGANIZATION 2 to 6 Lawyers 7 to 15 Lawyers 16 or More Lawyers MEAN $105,440 $58,946 $82,523 $100,007 $130,011 $127,878 $98,964 $111,314 $109,510 $109,863 MEDIAN $80,026 $59,967 $64,992 $79,000 $99,500 $100,022 $75,027 $82,041 $85,000 $83,000 TOTAL 35 YEARS AND UNDER 36 TO 45 YEARS AGE 46 TO 55 YEARS ETHNICITY 56 YEARS AND OVER HISPANIC ANGLO OTHER MEAN $105,440 $68,100 $96,514 $126,819 $115,443 $88,555 $116,267 $80,845 MEDIAN $80,026 $61,988 $74,975 $91,000 $91,000 $73,000 $88,967 $69,975 The table above shows the overall mean and median income for lawyers in New Mexico. The overall average income for all lawyers in the state is $105,440 with a median income of $80,026. The difference between the mean (average) and median salaries is a result of the large overall range of wages. The overall salary data shows those practicing in Eastern New Mexico and the Albuquerque Metro area tend to make more on average than those working in other areas of the state, though the median wage numbers do not vary as dramatically. Male attorneys have a higher average wage than do female attorneys. In part, this can be explained by the fact that female attorneys tend to be younger and have been practicing law for fewer years. They are also more likely than their male counterparts to work for government agencies which tend to pay at lower rates than other classifications. It is also observed that Anglo attorneys tend to earn more on average than do Hispanic attorneys or those of other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Again, Hispanics and those of other racial/ethnic backgrounds tend to have been practicing for fewer years when compared to Anglo attorneys and are more apt to work in government positions. In fact, 36% of the Hispanic attorneys who responded to the survey work for a government agency compared to 18% of Anglos.
8 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 8 ANNUAL WAGE BY GENDER: TOP 3 LEGAL CLASSIFICATIONS MALE FULL TIME PRACTITIONER GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHAREHOLDER MEAN $124,693 $69,712 $192,480 MEDIAN $99,998 $69,000 $165,500 FEMALE FULL TIME PRACTITIONER GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHAREHOLDER MEAN $84,339 $65,570 $150,732 MEDIAN $70,020 $63,000 $125,347 As mentioned earlier, female attorneys tend to make less overall than their male counterparts. The tables above show the differences in wages among those working full-time in the three largest practice groups. For example the median yearly wage for male full-time sole practitioners is nearly $30,000 higher than that for females ($99,998 and $70,020, respectively). The differences for government lawyers is less striking, though the median wage for females is $63,000 compared to $69,000 among males. For the partner/shareholder group, male attorneys have a median income of $165,500 compared to $125,347 among females. While some of the discrepancies are due to the fact that female attorneys have practiced for a shorter period of time, there are large differences between sole practitioners and partners/shareholders that cannot be accounted for by practice time alone. For instance, the results for hourly charged rates show that in many areas of practice, female attorneys reported lower hourly billing rates on average than do men.
9 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 9 Question 5: How many hours a week, on average, do you engage in: AVERAGE NUMBER OF HOURS FOR ACTIVITIES % OF RESPONDENTS PARTICIPATING ACTIVITY HOURS PER WEEK % HOURS SPENT 93% 63% 49% 46% 33% 26% 20 HOURS OR LESS 17% FEE-PRODUCING WORK/ 21 TO 30 HOURS 23% SALARIED TIME 31 TO 40 HOURS 40% 41 TO 50 HOURS 16% 51 HOURS OR MORE 4% MEAN 34 HOURS N/A MEDIAN 35 HOURS N/A 2 HOURS OR LESS 19% OFFICE ADMINISTRATION 3 TO 5 HOURS 45% 6 TO 10 HOURS 26% 11 HOURS OR MORE 10% MEAN 7 HOURS N/A MEDIAN 5 HOURS N/A 2 HOURS OR LESS 33% UNPAID PRO BONO WORK 3 TO 5 HOURS 43% 6 TO 10 HOURS 19% 11 HOURS OR MORE 5% MEAN 5 HOURS N/A MEDIAN 4 HOURS N/A 2 HOURS OR LESS 33% UNPAID LEGAL WORK 3 TO 5 HOURS 43% 6 TO 10 HOURS 19% 11 HOURS OR MORE 5% MEAN 5 HOURS N/A MEDIAN 4 HOURS N/A 2 HOURS OR LESS 50% UNPAID COMMUNITY WORK 3 TO 5 HOURS 36% 6 TO 10 HOURS 10% 11 HOURS OR MORE 4% MEAN 4 HOURS N/A MEDIAN 2 HOURS N/A 2 HOURS OR LESS 52% UNPAID RESEARCH 3 TO 5 HOURS 36% 6 TO 10 HOURS 11% 11 HOURS OR MORE 1% MEAN 3 HOURS N/A MEDIAN 2 HOURS N/A The table above shows the number of hours lawyers spend performing certain duties on a weekly basis. For instance, the survey respondents spend an average of 34 hours a week performing fee producing work or salaried time. One-fifth of respondents say they spend more than 40 hours a week performing fee producing work or salaried time. Sixty-three percent of the respondents say part of their duties includes office administration. These respondents spend an average of seven hours performing office administration duties in an average week, though the median is five hours. Nearly half of the respondents say they do unpaid pro-bono work, spending an average of five hours a week doing so and 46% do unpaid legal work spending an average of five hours in such activities..
10 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 10 Question 7: Do you keep time records of your work? 60% KEEPING OF TIME RECORDS TOTAL RESPONSES (N=731) 50% 48% 40% 30% 20% 10% 10% 11% 11% 21% 0% ALWAYS ALWAYS, EXCEPT IN CONTINGENCY OR OTHER NON- HOURLY FEE CASES MOST OF THE TIME SOMETIMES NEVER Approximately four-fifths of attorneys say they keep time records of their work at least some of the time. Nearly half (48%) of the respondents say they always keep time records of their work, while another 10% say they always do, except in contingency or other non-hourly fee cases. Eleven percent say they keep time records most of the time and another 11% do so sometimes. Question 8: If yes, the tracking unit used is: TRACKING UNIT USED FOR WORK TIME RECORDS AMONG THOSE WHO KEEP TIME RECORDS FOR WORK TOTAL RESPONSES (N=580) 80% 70% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 6 MIN. (.1 HOUR) 13% 15 MIN. (.25 HOUR) 4% 30 MIN. (.50 HOUR) 8% HOURLY 1% DAILY RATE 4% OTHER The large majority (70%) of attorneys who keep time records do so in six minute units, while 13% keep 15 minute units, 4% use half-hour units, and 8% keep hourly units to track their time.
11 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 11 Question 9: If you are subject to a minimum billable hours policy, has the minimum requirement changed over the past two years? CHANGE IN THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT BILLABLE HOURS POLICY OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS CHANGE AMONG THOSE WHO ARE SUBJECT TO A MINIMUM BILLABLE HOURS POLICY TOTAL RESPONSES (N=724) PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS YES, INCREASED 1% YES, DECREASED 1% FROM REQUIRED HOURS PER YEAR MEAN: 1,069 HOURS MEDIAN: 1,300 HOURS MEAN: 1,712 HOURS MEDIAN: 1,770 HOURS TO REQUIRED HOURS PER YEAR MEAN: 1,188 HOURS MEDIAN: 1,560 HOURS MEAN: 1,125 HOURS MEDIAN: 1,500 HOURS NO, STAYED THE SAME 16% N/A N/A NOT APPLICABLE 83% N/A N/A Just 2% of those surveyed say they have experienced a change in minimal billing hours over the past year, with 1% saying it has increased and 1% says their minimum billing has decreased. The increase in minimum billing hours has increased from a median of 1,300 hours a year to a median of 1,560 hours a year. Those who have a decrease have seen a median decline from 1,770 hours to 1,500.
12 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 12 Question 10: Which of the following billing methods do you use? BILLING METHODS TOTAL RESPONSES (N=730) 70% 60% 61% 50% 40% 36% 30% 32% 31% 30% 20% 16% 10% 10% 3% 2% 0% HOURLY RATES FLAT FEE RETAINERS CONTINGENT FEE CONTRACT RATES VALUE BILLING PER DIEM RATES OTHER NOT APPLICABLE The attorneys were asked what types of different billing methods they use. Approximately three-fifths (61%) of the respondents say they charge an hourly rate, while 36% charge a flat fee, 32% have retainers, 31% say they bill on a contingency basis, while 16% use contract rates, and 10% offer value billing. Thirty percent of the respondents do not bill for their services. The percentages add to more than 100% due to the fact respondents were able to give multiple responses.
13 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 13 Question 11: Do you perform any work on a contingency basis? WORK PERFORMED ON A CONTINGENT FEE BASIS TOTAL RESPONSES (N=728) Yes, 33% No, Do Not Perform Contingency Work, 67% WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE RECOVERY DO YOU TYPICALLY CHARGE AS A CONTINGENCY? MEAN 32.7% MEDIAN 33.0% One-third of the respondents say they perform on a contingency basis. On average, those who charge a contingency fee recover 32.7% with a median of 33%. Question 12: Do you have a standard or most commonly charged hourly rate that you currently apply as a guide, starting point or basis for fee computation? STANDARD OR MOST COMMONLY CHARGED HOURLY RATE TOTAL RESPONSES (N=729) AVERAGE HOURLY RATE: LOWEST HOURLY RATE: HIGHEST HOURLY RATE: 63% YES MEAN $213 MED. $200 MEAN $165 MED. $160 MEAN $248 MED. $249 4% NO 34% NOT APPLICABLE Approximately two-thirds of respondents (63%) say they have a standard or commonly charged hourly rate they apply as a guide, starting point or basis for fee computation. Respondents who use a guide were asked to give their lowest, highest, and average starting rate. The overall average hourly rate is $213 with a median of $200. The average low rate or starting point is $165, while the average high is $248 for a starting point. The average hourly billing rate for charges by male attorneys is $221 compared to an average of $200 among women. The median billing rates between male and female attorneys is identical ($200).
14 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 14 Question 13: The following is a list of various fields or areas of law. From this list: l) Choose those fields in which you spent most of your professional time during List the corresponding number for each area in the box below. 2) Specify the percentage of time you devoted to that field or area of law in ) Please indicate your current usual and maximum hourly billing rates for that field of law. Percentage of Time Spent During 2011 In Specific Areas of Law (Summary Table) LEGAL FIELD (ENTER CODE NUMBER FROM ABOVE) % OF THOSE WHO PERFORM WORK Torts/Personal Injury/Property Damage 25% Real Property/Landlord-Tenant/Credit Debit/Bankruptcy 24% Business/Corporations 24% Trial practice/litigation 23% Criminal 21% General Practice 18% Estate Planning/Taxation/Probate/Wills 18% Family/Domestic Relations 17% Labor/Employment/Employee Relations 17% Appeals 13% Constitutional/Civil Rights 12% ADR/Mediation/Arbitration 9% Public Law 9% Governmental Relations/Boards/Commissions/Zoning 9% Environmental/Natural Resources/Transportation/Water 8% Children s Law 8% Worker s Compensation/Risk Management 5% Elder Law 5% Taxation 3% Intellectual Property/Patent/Entertainment 3% Health/Mental Health 3% Immigration/International 3% Indian Law/Gaming 2% STANDARD HOURLY RATE Mean:$180 Median:$179 Mean:$203 Median:$200 Mean:$202 Median:$200 Mean:$214 Median:$201 Mean:$207 Median:$201 Mean:$196 Median:$200 Mean:$198 Median:$200 Mean:$199 Median:$200 Mean:$194 Median:$196 Mean:$218 Median:$226 Mean:$203 Median:$185 Mean:$221 Median:$227 Mean:$167 Median:$168 Mean:$163 Median:$174 Mean:$206 Median:$198 Mean:$119 Median:$95 Mean:$166 Median:$175 Mean:$179 Median:$183 Mean:$234 Median:$238 Mean:$211 Median:$213 Mean:$248 Median:$250 Mean:$198 Median:$205 Mean:$231 Median:$248
15 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 15 Respondents were asked to indicate the different types of work they performed in 2011 and to give their usual hourly rate for each type of service. As shown on the preceding page, 25% of respondents say they worked in torts/personal injury/property damage cases with an average standard rate of $180 an hour. Approximately one-in-four of the respondents (24%) say they spent time in real estate/landlord-tenant/credit-debit/bankruptcy law charging an average of $203 an hour, while 24% were in business/corporate law, charging an average of $202 an hour. Due to the small cell sizes for many of the different areas of law (Indian Law/Gaming, Immigration, Health/Mental Health, etc.), caution should be taken when looking at some of the survey results. For many of the areas of practice, it is observed that female attorneys report charging lower rates than their male counterparts. In fact, in eight of the top 11 areas of practice listed on the previous page, male attorneys report charging on average of at least $10 more per hour than do female attorneys. In some cases, male attorneys report charging $50 or more an hour on average than do female. For example, when it comes to real property/landlord-tenant/bankruptcy/debtor/creditor/consumer law, male attorneys report charging an average of $213 per hour compared to $181 reported among female attorneys. For business/corporate law, males charged an average of $208 per hour compared to $189 reported by female attorneys. In trial practice/litigation, male attorneys reported an average hourly rate of $225 compared to an average of $175 among female attorneys. In other areas of practice, the differences between male and female attorneys are minimal. In the family/domestic relations area, female attorneys charged an average of $200 per hour, while males report charging $198 an hour. For general practice, males report charging approximately $8 more per hour than do females. Male and female attorneys also charge very similar rates for estate planning/taxation/probate/wills.
16 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 16 Question 14: If applicable, how long ago did you or your firm increase your hourly rate? Length of Time Since Hourly Rate Was Increased (Summary Table) TOTAL SAMPLE PRACTITIONER CLASSIFICATION OR OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION CITY, STATE OR COUNTY GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHARE- HOLDER ASSOCIATE 1 LAWYER/ TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE PRACTICE 2 TO 6 7 TO 15 0 to 6 months ago 11% 12% 0% 23% 21% 11% 6% 11% 15% 7 to 11 months ago 7% 6% 1% 15% 9% 6% 6% 7% 8% 1 to 2 years ago 17% 23% 0% 33% 14% 21% 21% 19% 6% More than 2 years ago 17% 33% 3% 17% 11% 30% 18% 7% 4% Not applicable 44% 23% 94% 10% 21% 30% 41% 52% 60% Don t know/won t say 5% 3% 3% 2% 24% 2% 7% 4% 7% 16 OR MORE Over one-third (35%) of the attorneys who responded say they or their firm has increased their hourly rates with the past two years, with 11% having done so in just the last six months. Seventeen percent say they have raised their rates one to two years ago, and another 17% last increased their rates more than two years ago.
17 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 17 Question 15: If applicable, indicate the percentage of increase the last time you or your firm changed your hourly rate: PERCENTAGE OF HOURLY RATE INCREASE ` TOTAL RESPONSES PRACTITIONER CLASSIFICATION OR OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION CITY, STATE OR COUNTY GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHARE- HOLDER ASSOCIATE 1 LAWYER/ TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE PRACTICE 2 TO 6 7 TO OR MORE INCREASE OF 5% OR LESS 27% 20% 67% 35% 26% 20% 22% 36% 50% INCREASE OF 6% TO 10% 41% 35% 17% 50% 37% 36% 46% 49% 41% INCREASE OF 11% TO 19% 19% 25% 17% 8% 28% 24% 22% 9% 7% INCREASE OF 20% OR MORE 12% 20% 0% 7% 9% 20% 9% 6% 2% Twenty-seven percent of respondents who have increased their hourly rates only raised them by 5% or less. The plurality (41%) last raised their rates between 6% and 10%, while 19% saw an increase ranging from 11% to 19%. Twelve percent of those who have raised their hourly rate made an increase of 20% or more. It should be noted that 20% of the sole practitioners who have increased their rates did so by 20% or more.
18 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 18 Question 16: In a typical year, approximately what percent of the fees you bill is written off as uncollectible? ANNUAL PERCENTAGE OF BILLABLE FEES THAT ARE WRITTEN OFF AS UNCOLLECTIBLE ` TOTAL SAMPLE PRACTITIONER CLASSIFICATION OR OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION CITY, STATE OR COUNTY GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHARE- HOLDER ASSOCIATE 1 LAWYER/ TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE PRACTICE 2 TO 6 7 TO OR MORE NONE/0% 40% 22% 96% 7% 16% 25% 39% 48% 60% 1% TO 5% 26% 29% 0% 59% 32% 26% 28% 31% 22% 6% TO 10% 13% 16% 1% 17% 23% 17% 13% 16% 7% 11% TO 20% 11% 16% 0% 11% 20% 17% 14% 4% 5% 21% OR MORE 9% 17% 2% 6% 8% 15% 7% 1% 6% MEAN 7% 12% 0% 8% 9% 12% 7% 4% 3% MEDIAN 3% 5% 0% 5% 7% 5% 5% 1% 0% Three-fifths of the respondents report having to write off some of their fees as uncollectible in a typical year. In fact, onefifth of respondents say they typically write off 11% or more of their fees as uncollectible, while 13% write off between 6% to 10% of their fees and 26% write off between 1% and 5%. On average, respondents report having to write off approximately 7% of their fees as uncollectible.
19 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 19 Question 18 through Question 26: How often does your office charge clients for the following expenses? FREQUENCY OF CHARGING CLIENT FOR VARIOUS EXPENSES TOTAL RESPONSES RANKED BY HIGHEST PERCENTAGE ALWAYS ALWAYS USUALLY SOMETIMES RARELY NEVER NOT APPLICABLE TIME SPENT ON TELEPHONE CALLS 25% 30% 7% 2% 5% 31% TRAVEL COSTS 24% 21% 10% 3% 9% 32% TRAVEL TIME 17% 25% 14% 5% 7% 32% PARALEGAL TIME OR SERVICES 13% 19% 11% 4% 12% 42% POSTAGE 13% 14% 13% 13% 15% 32% DUPLICATING/PHOTOCOPYING EXPENSES 12% 20% 14% 11% 12% 31% COMPUTERIZED LEGAL RESEARCH COSTS 9% 13% 9% 10% 23% 35% LEGAL ASSISTANT TIME OR SERVICES 6% 9% 13% 8% 23% 41% OTHER COMPUTER TIME OR SERVICES 3% 5% 6% 11% 36% 38% SECRETARIAL TIME OR SERVICES 2% 3% 8% 8% 41% 38% Members were asked to rate how often they charge clients for various expenses. As shown above, the majority (55%) say they always (25%) or usually (30%) charge clients for time spent on phone calls and 45% either always (24%) or usually (21%) charge for lawyers travel costs. Forty-two percent also say they always or usually charge for travel time. Relatively few of the respondents say they either always or usually charge for secretarial time/services (5%), other computer time or services (8%), or legal assistant time/services (15%).
20 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 20 Question 27: Do you market your legal services? MARKET LEGAL SERVICES ` TOTAL SAMPLE PRACTITIONER CLASSIFICATION OR OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION CITY, STATE OR COUNTY GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHARE- HOLDER ASSOCIATE 1 LAWYER/ TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE PRACTICE 2 TO 6 7 TO OR MORE YES, MARKET 38% 37% 5% 70% 62% 37% 41% 38% 38% NO, DO NOT MARKET 62% 63% 95% 30% 38% 63% 59% 63% 63% SOURCE OF MARKETING FOR LEGAL SERVICES TOTAL RESPONSES (N=262) AMONG THOSE WHO MARKET THEIR SERVICES ` TOTAL SAMPLE PRACTITIONER CLASSIFICATION OR OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION CITY, STATE OR COUNTY GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHARE- HOLDER ASSOCIATE 1 LAWYER/ TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE PRACTICE 2 TO 6 7 TO OR MORE WEB SITE 80% 62% 71% 92% 85% 64% 81% 100% 90% REFERRALS/WORD OF MOUTH 77% 73% 57% 81% 76% 76% 70% 77% 90% LISTING IN LEGAL DIRECTORY 45% 31% 29% 57% 50% 33% 42% 51% 64% SEMINARS/CONFERENCES/LEGAL FAIRS 37% 8% 14% 54% 54% 10% 28% 56% 75% FIRM BROCHURE AND RESUME 36% 8% 29% 48% 57% 12% 26% 62% 68% YELLOW PAGES BLOCK DISPLAY YELLOW PAGES PHONE NUMBER ONLY SOCIAL MEDIA (FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, ETC.) 34% 43% 0% 31% 26% 44% 38% 33% 15% 32% 26% 29% 43% 15% 24% 43% 33% 31% 26% 19% 0% 34% 35% 20% 22% 38% 32% Approximately two-fifths (38%) of the survey respondents say they or their firm markets their legal services. Among those who do market their services, the most popular mediums are through a website (80%) and through referrals/word of mouth (77%). Other commonly used ways to market their services include listing in the legal directory (45%), seminars/conferences/legal fairs (37%), firm brochures/resume (36%), yellow pages block display (34%), yellow pages phone number only (32%), and social media (26%).
21 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 21 Question 28: Do clients sign retainers prior to your acceptance of new work? 40% CLIENTS SIGN RETAINERS PRIOR TO ACCEPTANCE OF NEW WORK TOTAL RESPONSES (N=688) 30% 34% 31% 22% 20% 10% 10% 2% 0% ALWAYS USUALLY SOMETIMES NEVER NOT APPLICABLE Question 29: How often do you represent clients pursuant to a written fee or engagement agreement or letter? 40% 30% FREQUENCY OF REPRESENTING CLIENTS PURSUANT TO A WRITTEN FEE OR ENGAGEMENT AGREEMENT/LETTER TOTAL RESPONSES (N=687) 34% 31% 22% 20% 10% 10% 3% 0% ALWAYS USUALLY SOMETIMES NEVER NOT APPLICABLE The majority of attorneys say they either always (34%) or usually (22%) have their client sign a retainer prior to accepting new work and another 10% say they sometimes have clients sign a retainer. One-third of the respondents either never have their clients sign a retainer (2%) or say it is not applicable to their practice (31%). The majority of attorneys also say they either always (34%) or usually (22%) represent clients pursuant to a written fee agreement or letter and another 10% say they sometimes do so.
22 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 22 Question 30: Do you or your firm currently maintain professional liability insurance coverage? MAINTAINS LIABILITY INSURANCE TOTAL RESPONSES (N=685) 60% 50% AMOUNT OF LIABILITY INSURANCE AMONG THOSE WHO CURRENTLY MAINTAIN LIABILITY INSURANCE 47% NOT APPLICABLE 24% NO 9% YES 67% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1% UNDER $100,000 9% $100,001 TO 300,000 6% $300,001 TO $500,000 26% $500,001 TO $1,000,000 $1,000,001 TO $5,000,000 11% $5,000,001 OR MORE Two-thirds of the respondents say they or their firm maintains professional liability insurance. The majority (58%) of those who carry liability insurance have more than $1,000,000 in coverage.
23 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 23 Question 31: Do you work with a paralegal? WORK WITH A PARALEGAL BY DEMOGRAPHICS TOTAL SAMPLE PRACTITIONER TOTAL RESPONSES (N=684) CLASSIFICATION OR OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION CITY, STATE OR GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHAREHOLDER ASSOCIATE 1 LAWYER/ TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE PRACTICE 2 TO 6 7 TO OR MORE YES 56% 32% 57% 72% 87% 34% 61% 72% 71% NO 44% 68% 43% 28% 13% 66% 39% 28% 29% Ques. 32/33: How many years of experience does your paralegal have? & What is your paralegal s annual salary? 60% PARALEGAL'S YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AMONG THOSE WHO WHO WORK WITH A PARALEGAL ANNUAL SALARY FOR THE PARALEGALS 50% 40% 30% 31% 38% AMONG THOSE WHO WORK WITH A PARALEGAL TOTAL RESPONSES (N=182) SALARY MEAN $42,182 20% 18% 14% MEDIAN $40,238 10% 0% 1-5 YEARS 6-10 YEARS YEARS 21 YEARS OR MORE MEAN: 14 YEARS MEDIAN: 15 YEARS As shown above, the majority (56%) of respondents say they work with a paralegal. Working with a paralegal is much more prevalent among those who are associates (87%) and partners/shareholders (72%) than it is with City/State/Government lawyers (57%) and sole practitioners (32%). On average, the paralegals have 14 years of experience and have an average salary of $42,182.
24 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 24 Question 34: In the last year did your total income increase, decrease, or stay the same? INCOME INCREASED, DECREASED OR STAYED THE SAME TOTAL SAMPLE CLASSIFICATION OR OTHER LEGAL OCCUPATION PRACTITIONER CITY, STATE OR GOVERNMENT PARTNER/ SHAREHOLDER ASSOCIATE TOTAL NUMBER OF IN THE PRACTICE 1 LAWYER/ 2 TO 6 7 TO OR MORE INCREASED 34% 30% 19% 47% 57% 32% 41% 33% 31% DECREASED 20% 26% 13% 17% 8% 35% 14% 15% 10% STAYED THE SAME 45% 34% 68% 36% 35% 33% 45% 51% 59% INCOME INCREASED, DECREASED OR STAYED THE SAME INCREASED MEAN $30,256 MEDIAN $15,000 DECREASED MEAN $22,991 MEDIAN $19,998 Approximately one-third (34%) of the respondents say their income increased last year by an average of just over $30,000, though the median increase was $15,000, indicating there were many outliers (attorneys who experienced a dramatic increase in salary). One-in-five respondents say their income decreased over the past year by an average of nearly $23,000. The plurality of respondents say their income neither increased nor decreased in the past year. Associates (57%) and partners/shareholders (47%) are more apt than sole practitioners (30%) and government attorneys (19%) to have experienced an increase in their income last year.
25 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 25 Question 35-40: Please rate how strongly you either agree or disagree with the following statements? LEVEL OF AGREEMENT WITH VARIOUS STATEMENTS RANKED BY HIGHEST STRONGLY AGREE STRONGLY AGREE 5 SOMEWHAT AGREE 4 NEITHER AGREE NOR DISAGREE 3 SOMEWHAT DISAGREE 2 STRONGLY DISAGREE 1 NOT APPLICABLE/ DON T KNOW THE COST OF LITIGATION HAS BECOME PROHIBITIVE IN RECENT YEARS 37% 36% 13% 3% 1% 11% I AM SATISFIED WITH MY CAREER 36% 42% 7% 10% 4% 1% HAVE GOTTEN LESS CIVIL TO EACH OTHER OVER TIME I HAVE GOOD OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT PRACTICING LAW IN NEW MEXICO I WOULD RECOMMEND A LEGAL CAREER TO A YOUNG PERSON NEW MEXICO IS A GOOD PLACE TO PRACTICE LAW IN TERMS OF COMPENSATION 30% 33% 20% 7% 3% 7% 20% 29% 17% 16% 11% 7% 16% 32% 19% 20% 12% 1% 5% 22% 21% 27% 22% 4% Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with various statements relating to practicing law in New Mexico. As shown above, nearly four-fifths (78%) either strongly agree (36%) or somewhat agree (42%), I am satisfied with my career. However, approximately three-quarters (73%) also either strongly agree (37%) or somewhat agree (36%) that the cost of litigation has become prohibitive in recent years, with just 4% who disagree. The large majority of the survey respondents either strongly agree (30%) or somewhat agree (33%) that lawyers have gotten less civil to each other over time, with just 10% who disagree. Approximately half (49%) of the respondents agree that they have good opportunities for advancement practicing law in New Mexico, though 27% disagree. Furthermore, nearly half (48%) agree they would recommend a legal career to a young person. However, one-third (32%) of the respondents indicate that they would not recommend the legal profession and 19% neither agree nor disagree. Finally, less than one-third (27%) of those who responded agree that New Mexico is a good place to practice law in terms of compensation, while nearly half (49%) disagree and 21% neither agree nor disagree.
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 26 Question 41: Which of the following, if any, do you see as perceived barriers to practicing law in New Mexico? BARRIERS TO PRACTICING LAW IN NEW MEXICO TOTAL RESPONSES (N=681) POOR ECONOMY 72% LACK OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT 29% INSUFFICIENT PROFITS 28% LACK OF RECIPROCITY 27% DIFFICULT TO ATTRACT NEW CLIENTS 24% NOT ENOUGH QUALIFIED SUPPORT STAFF 20% COMPETITION: TOO MANY SOLO PRACTITIONERS 16% COMPETITION: TOO MANY LAW FIRMS 15% GENDER DISCRIMINATION 9% OTHER 8% RACIAL DISCRIMINATION 4% NOTHING IN PARTICULAR 15% As shown above, when asked what they see as perceived barriers to practicing law in New Mexico, 72% of the respondents cite the poor economy. In comparison, lack of opportunities for advancement (29%), insufficient profits (28%), lack of reciprocity (27%), and difficulty attracting new clients (24%) are perceived to be obstacles by approximately one-quarter of the respondents. Other perceived obstacles include not enough qualified support staff (20%), too many solo practitioners (16%), too many law firms (15%), gender discrimination (9%), and racial discrimination (4%).
27 SEPTEMBER 2012 PAGE 27 Question 42: Do you feel that reciprocity would be a benefit, a detriment or have no impact to your law practice in terms of compensation? 40% RECIPROCITY WOULD BE A BENEFIT, DETRIMENT OR HAVE NO IMPACT ON PRACTICE TOTAL RESPONSES (N=681) 33% 30% 27% 20% 21% 19% 10% 0% BENEFIT NO IMPACT DETRIMENT DON'T KNOW Overall, there is no clear consensus as to how reciprocity would impact law practices in New Mexico. While the plurality (33%) believe reciprocity would be a benefit to their practice, 21% say it would be a detriment, and 27% believe it would have no impact one way or the other.
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