And the Survey Says...
Slightly more than half of the lawyers participating in the KBA Economics and Law Office Management Service indicated that they bill at over $250 per hour, most have increased their rate over the past two years, and 40% plan to increase their rate in 2022. Twenty percent (up from 17% in 2019) had at least $100,000 in educational debt upon graduation from law school. Fifty-nine percent of respondents report their technology budget will increase in 2022.
The KBA’s survey was completed by 296 lawyers or 19% of the total membership. Joanne O’Reilly of the American Bar Association’s Division of Bar Services was responsible for data collection and she reported that we can have high confidence that the survey responses reflect the demographics and economics of the Knoxville legal community overall. The survey results compare the results from the 2019 survey to the responses in 2021.
Survey respondents indicated the average salary for recent law school grads with no experience is $64,497. Lawyers with fewer than three years of experience are averaging $74,680; $81,147 for those in practice three to five years; and $102,663 for those with six to eight years’ experience. Lawyers with more than eight years on the job are averaging $126,589 per year, and partners and shareholders are pulling in an average of $221,714. When comparing the responses, attorneys with 5 or fewer years of experience are earning less in 2021 but there was an increase for all others in 2021.
Fifty-four percent of Knoxville lawyers reported an increase in clients having higher level of expectations compared to the past. Seventy-seven percent (down from 83% in 2019) spend at least an hour per week on volunteer work, with 18% spending 6-10 hours per week.The average number of pro bono hours completed in 2020 was up slightly to 35.9 hours.
Seventeen percent had at least $100,000 in educational debt upon graduation from law school and twenty-three percent had less than $25,000 in debt.
Forty-six percent of respondents reported either operating a solo practice or working in a firm or other legal setting with five or fewer lawyers, while 21 % say they work with more than 21 attorneys. Respondents also reported, on average, 54 percent of their offices’ gross receipts went to pay the lawyers in the office, while 22 percent went to support-staff salaries. The remaining 23 percent covered all other firm expenses.
Eighty-six percent of those who completed the survey are satisfied with the services the KBA provides and the most frequently used services were live CLE courses (53%), Attorney’s Directory (66%), and on demand CLE courses (51%).
New this year was a section asking for feedback from young lawyers, aged 35 and younger. Sixty-seven percent anticipate that they will continue to work at their current firm/employer for the next five years, while 20 % are unsure. The most important elements in evaluating a potential employer (based on a 1-5 scale where 1=extremely unimportant and 5=extremely important) are committed to fostering work/life balance for employees (4.85 mean), salary (4.63 mean) and flexible work schedule (4.48 mean). Eighty-eight percent have had a mentor, including 75% of which were attorneys at their firm/employer.
Have I piqued your interest? To view the complete survey results which are filtered based on years of experience, employment setting and firm size, you must log in to the KBA website. Click here to view.
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