"The survey is conducted every three years and the results are used daily throughout the state in courtrooms, law firms and by lawyers in all occupational areas. As referenced by the Michigan Supreme Court in Smith v. Khouri, it is the primary resource used by trial courts to determine attorney fees. It provides the benchmark for more than 50 specific fields of practice by geographic location.
Survey results also contain data about salaries, benefits, hours worked and job satisfaction for attorneys in non-private practice occupations, such as those working as in-house counsel, in government service, non-profit organizations, academia, legal services and more."
The survey has two practical objectives:
- To provide timely, relevant and accurate information to inform and guide the practical management decisions of Michigan attorneys
- To track and illustrate changes and trends within the legal profession
- Attorney income
- Prevailing average hourly billing rates by several indicators including fields of practice, judicial circuit, and geographic location
- Time allocated to billable and non-billable professional activities
- Management practices
- Perceptions regarding current and future economic circumstances related to the practice of law
For all private practitioners, the 25th percentile earned $52,900, and the 95th percentile earned $500,000. For all non-private practitioners, the 25th percentile earned $58,000, and the 95th percentile earned $220,000.
Not only is the survey informative for practical decision making like how much to charge per hour, it is also useful for research purposes. As mentioned above, the survey is the primary resource used by trial courts to determine attorney fees. If you are writing a motion for attorney fees, this is a great finding aid to determine the amount to ask the court to award.