Bar News - September 8, 2006
Just the Facts… Member Survey Provides Profile of NH Bar
By: Dan Wise
Since the last comprehensive economic survey of the Bar membership was conducted in 2000-2001, the percentage of women in the NH Bar Association has jumped from 25 percent to 35 percent. During that same time period, the average age of all Bar members has also advanced, with slightly more than 40 percent over the age of 50, compared to slightly more than 30 percent only five years ago.
Something that hasn’t changed greatly is the distribution of Bar members in the state. Hillsborough and Rockingham counties still account for about half of all Bar members (based on office location), and fewer than 10 percent practice in the four smallest counties (Carroll, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan). Influenced in part by the recent admission on waiver process and the growing trend toward cross-state legal practice, 18 percent of the Bar’s membership is now located out of state.
In 2005-2006, Bar members participated in the first two installments of the NHBA Member Survey Series, a series of surveys circulated to all members. Members had the option of filling out an online questionnaire or submitting responses by mail.
Survey participation was heartening, and the amount of data received was staggering. This is because it was possible to correlate each question and response to various sub-groups and categories of membership. Using unique IDs for each respondent generated by the survey software (which define categories but protect personal identity), it is possible to correlate economic figures reported by attorneys with age, gender, type or size of practice, and location.
An example of an economic snapshot by size of practice shows that net median income for law firms/offices with only a single member of the New Hampshire Bar ranged from $45,000 to $60,000. The median increases to more than $100,000 with firms of more than 20 lawyers.
The survey grouped the state’s 10 counties into three regions. Region 1 comprised the four smallest counties (Carroll, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan); Region 2 comprised the mid-sized counties (Belknap, Cheshire, Merrimack and Strafford); and Region 3, comprised the state’s two most densely populated counties (Hillsborough and Rockingham).
In future issues of the Bar News, we will continue to report results from the Survey Series, including charts on salaries and billing rates for associates and legal assistants, net income by age, and disparities between male and female members of the Bar in both age/demographics and income.
Read a summary of the first two installments of the Survey Series under NHBA Newsroom Highlights on the NHBA home page at www.nhbar.org.