Full Report of SBM 2010 Economics of Law Practice Survey Now Available Online


Michigan lawyers and others interested in key trends in the legal profession, as well as accurate, timely information for management and planning purposes, can now reference the full summary results of the State Bar of Michigan 2010 Economics of Law Practice Survey. An earlier key findings report, released in February, focused exclusively on attorney income and billing rates. The full 57-page report, which also covers overhead expenses, management practices, and perceptions about current and future circumstances related to the practice of law, can be downloaded as a free service at Economics of Law Practice Survey Desktop Reference.

Noteworthy findings show:

  • In 2010, median (middle-occurring) income for all respondents was estimated at $84,000 while mean (average) income was $122,271. This is a decrease from reported incomes in 2009: $85,000 for median values and $129,476 for mean values.
  • Differences in female/male earning power for full-time private practitioners show that the median income for women was $75,000. For men it was $100,000. For non-private practitioners, the median value for females was $80,000 and for males it was $100,000.
  • The median billable hour for private practitioners was $215 and the mean was $236.
  • For those who graduated from law school within the last ten years, the median education debt was $100,000.
  • The average work week length for private practitioners was 50 hours; for non-private practitioners it was 44 hours.
  • Seventy to seventy-five percent of all attorneys reported enough or a great deal of job satisfaction.
  • Slightly more than half of respondents expected the practice of law to become less satisfying in the future.

The Economics of Law Practice survey, which was conducted in October of 2010, attracted a record number of participants—nearly triple the number of the previous survey. A broad representation of SBM membership participated in the survey. For the first time ever, two separate surveys were conducted, one for private practitioners and the other for all other attorneys, allowing for much more detailed information from each group. Attorneys were asked to identify multiple fields of practice and to identify up to three geographical circuits where they practiced at least 30 percent of the time. For the first time, a table of attorney billing rates by circuit and by field of practice is available.