It’s annual state bar convention time this week. And as usual, along with some 16,000 non-attending Arizona lawyers, I won’t be among the approximately 9% of active Arizona lawyers darkening the portals of the bar convention hotel. The Bar, though, should be pleased that some 1,700 of its souls will attend all or part of its anachronistic annual gabfest.
I won’t be there and I won’t miss the glad-handing, back-scratching, and ego-massaging. Or that the usual awards will be presented with the appropriate applause followed by the obligatory rubber chicken entrée.
In fairness, most attendees will attend not to apple-polish or to ‘show face.’ Some will find time to network, even if it’s only at potty-breaks between program sessions. But most will attend the convention because of commiserated procrastination.
The procrastination refers to the June 30th fiscal year deadline to comply with the state bar’s annual mandatory 15 credit hours of continuing legal education. For procrastinators who waited almost until the end, its glazed eyes and glazed donuts and day-long seminars adding up to the Arizona Bar’s version — minus the fun — of the Butt-Numb-A-Thon.
And no fools they, that’s why the Arizona Bar schedules its annual lawyer confab in the unholy, infernal month of June — just a week shy of the CLE compliance deadline.
And although most lawyers will be working, I know at least one buddy who will instead be taking his granddaughter to the circus — certainly a much more enjoyable venue and a more meaningfully memorable way to spend a day.
No price increase on survey results.
I must’ve missed the announcement. But someone was nice enough to tell me that according to yesterday’s local paper business headline, “Survey: Lawyer salaries on rise” — I got a raise!
But historically speaking, since roughly 3/4 of all private practice lawyers nationwide are either solos or in firms of 2 to 5 lawyers, I now know why I missed the news. I forgot to give myself a raise.
The lawyer economics report is, of course, the same report that in 2010, I posted, “State bar says ‘take our survey so we can sell you the results.” And yes, the Bar earlier emailed out virtually the same survey questionnaire to produce this year’s 45-page “2013 Economics of Law in Arizona” report.
And like before, it’s still for sale although there’s small comfort. The Bar held the line and didn’t raise the price. It’s the same as 3 years ago at $125 — tax and shipping not included. Graciously, the Bar’s Website, provides a Free report “snapshot.”
“We few, we happy few . . . .”
But the bottom line? Well, lawyers are a little more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Median annual salaries are up 11% from last time, to $100,000, which a dentist buddy volunteered was “pretty low.” Leave it to another rarefied professional to rain on the Bar’s parade.
All the same, per the report, “average income for full time attorneys is now $143,403.” The median billing rate is up five greenbacks to $255 per hour.
And according to the flack’s soundbite at the Bar: “Attorneys in Arizona are not only making more money than they were three years ago, they’re also slightly more optimistic about the future.”
To its credit, however, the Arizona Republic Business article did make passing mention of the still bleak lawyer job market and the glut of young lawyers still churning out of law schools. I doubt those folks count up in the Bar report’s glowing full-time income average — the qualifier, of course, being “full-time” rather than underemployed lawyer and part-time barista.
For those eager but still jobless fledgling legal eagles, there may instead be no warm optimism but at least, cold comfort — not in irrelevant surveys — but in the old saw, “Since I gave up hope, I feel much better.”
Photo Credits: “Riveting meeting,” by Mark Hillary at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “007 meets with his team leaders,” by Bill Strain at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “Frankarr can has donuts. nom nom nom,” by Nick Hodge ” at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “Looking up,” by Ian Munroe at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “The Morning Mad Hair & how to deal with it in three easy steps,” by atomicjeep at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “Bug-eyes,” by Rochelle Hartman at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution.