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Introduction

In April 1998, the Oregon State Bar commissioned an economic survey to be conducted of the membership of the Oregon State Bar. This survey was administered by Flikirs Professional Services, Inc., an independent consulting firm. The survey was very similar to a survey conducted four years ago in 1994. The following report details the survey process and the findings obtained from an analysis of the data contained in the survey questionnaires that were completed and returned.

Purpose

The purpose of this project was to gather demographic and economic information regarding Oregon attorneys. Data was gathered in five major areas.

 Attorney Profile and Characteristics - information regarding gender, age, years admitted to practice in Oregon, total years admitted to practice, type of employment, area of private practice, size of practice, level of employment, and method of pay.

 Compensation - information regarding annual compensation for 1997 received from legal practice.

 Billing Practices for Attorneys in Private Practice - information regarding hours billed per month, hourly billing rate, and billing methods utilized.

 Practice Profile and Characteristics - information regarding total hours worked per month and hours spent in pro-bono and community service activities.

 Career Satisfaction - an overall rating of the attorney's satisfaction with his/her legal career and satisfaction with his/her legal career versus personal life.

Survey Design/Process

The project involved a mail survey of a sample of attorneys selected from the list of Oregon Active, Active Retired, and Active Emeritus Members of the Oregon State Bar. For purposes of this project, the Bar membership was divided into seven geographic regions. From each region, a proportional random sample was selected. The use of a random sample afforded every member within each region an equal chance of receiving a questionnaire. Proportional sampling assured that data from attorneys in regions of the state with fewer attorneys (i.e., Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, and Oregon Coast) did not distort the overall data.

The questionnaire was developed by the Economic Survey Committee of the Oregon State Bar, consisting of chair Ed Jones, Ed Harnden, David O’Brien, and Rod Wegener. The questionnaire design was limited to one page to increase the rate of participation. Whenever possible, questions were designed to correspond to the data that was collected in the economic survey that was conducted four years earlier in 1994 in order to facilitate comparison.

Attorneys sampled received a cover letter from the President of the Oregon State Bar, the questionnaire with an identification code number, and a postage-paid return envelope in April 1998. A reminder postcard was sent to those attorneys who had not responded after one week. A replacement questionnaire, with a cover letter from Flikirs Professional Services, Inc., was sent to those attorneys who had not responded by the initial deadline.

Data from completed surveys was entered into a statistical computer program. Five surveys were returned with the identification code number removed and, thus, could not be used in the analysis.

The data analysis relies on descriptive statistics, including principally averages and medians. The average, also known as the mean, is calculated by adding all of the respondents' scores for a particular item and dividing by the total number of respondents. The median, also known as the midpoint, is the point at which 50% of the responses are above and 50% below that number.

Validity of Sample

The respondents were compared overall and by region with the non-respondents with regard to data available from the Oregon State Bar membership records, including gender and years admitted to practice in Oregon. Overall, the percentage of women responding was only slightly higher than the percentage of men responding. Women represented 28% of the sample and 29% of the respondents.

The respondents were also compared to the total sample by the categories used in the analysis of years admitted to practice in Oregon. All of the eight categories of years admitted to practice had less than a one percent difference between the respondents and the total sample.

Given the proportional sampling method by region, the large number of respondents, and the similarity of respondents and non-respondents regarding gender and years admitted to practice in Oregon, the data in this report can be viewed as representative of attorneys in Oregon.

Comparison to 1994 Survey

Throughout this report, comparative data is presented comparing current data to data collected in the 1994 survey. Many of the averages for specific data are very similar to the 1994 data. The median age increased by one year from 44 to 45 years of age. The percentage of female respondents increased by four percentage points from 25% in the 1994 survey to 29% in 1998.

The average compensation reported in 1998 was almost 14% higher than reported in 1994 while the median compensation increased by approximately 9%. The average hourly billing rate also increased by over 12% from $123 per hour in 1994 to $138 per hour in 1998.

Average hours worked per month and pro bono hours held relatively stable between the two surveys. Average community service hours increased from 10.8 hours per month in 1994 to 11.1 hours in 1998. The overall rating for career satisfaction (based on a 5-point scale) raised slightly from 3.5 in 1994 to 3.6 in 1998.

The following table contains some highlights of the overall data collected in both surveys.

Item

1994 Survey

1998 Survey

Median Age

44

45

Gender - Females

25%

29%

Average Number of Years in Practice

15

16

Lawyers in Private Practice

76%

76%

Full-Time Lawyers

81%

81%

Average Compensation

73,630

83,805

Median Compensation

58,000

63,090

Median Hours Billed per Month - Private Practice

120

120

Average Hourly Billing Rate - Private Practice

123

138

Average Hours Worked per Month - Full-Time

189

189

Average Pro-Bono Hours per Month

9.3

9.2

Average Community Service Hours per Month

10.8

11.1

Career Satisfaction - 5-point scale

3.5

3.6


Survey Table and Map

The sample was selected from the list of Oregon Active, Active Retired, and Active Emeritus Members prepared by the Oregon State Bar as of April 1998. The survey sample was selected on a regional basis using the seven geographic regions defined by the Bar in the previous study conducted in 1994. The following table lists the seven regions, the number of individuals on the total Oregon Active, Active Retired, and Active Emeritus Membership list, the percentage that each region represents of the total, the number of individuals in the sample selected, the number of completed questionnaires returned, and the percentage rate of return.

The overall return rate was 69%, represented by 2,207 completed questionnaires. This rate of return is considered to be very good for a survey of this type. The percentage rate of return for completed questionnaires by region closely parallels the percentage each region represents of the total bar membership as shown in the table below.

On the following page, a map of Oregon graphically displays the seven regions utilized for this survey.

Region

Total

%

Sample
Size

Returned

Number

%

Downtown Portland

(Zip Codes 97201, 97204, 97205, 97207, 97208, 97228, 97258)

3,525

36.7

1,175

810

36.7

Tri-County

(Remainder of Portland, Multnomah County, Clackamas, and Washington Counties)

2,361

24.6

787

511

23.2

Upper Willamette Valley

(Marion, Polk, and Yamhill Counties)

1,251

13.0

417

281

12.7

Lower Willamette Valley

(Benton, Lane, and Linn Counties)

1,054

11.0

351

252

11.4

Southern Oregon

(Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath Counties)

531

5.5

177

133

6.0

Eastern Oregon

(Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, and Wheeler Counties)

553

5.8

184

146

6.6

Oregon Coast

(Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Lincoln, and Tillamook Counties)

328

3.4

109

74

3.4

Totals

9,603

100

3,200

2,207

100