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Law Firms Increased Hourly Rates in 2008: What Were They Thinking?

Well, it's no wonder that clients are grousing about rates, going so far as to demand that law firms send work to India. Turns out that even as the economy skidded downhill in 2008, law firms continued to crank up their billable rates, reports the National Law Journal. What were they thinking?

According to the NLJ, nearly 71 percent of law firms reported an increase in the amount that they charged clients, compared with 2007. Partner billing rates at White and Case rose above the previous record breaking $1000/hour rates, topping out at $1,260/hour. (To be fair, White and Case explained to the NLJ that this rate was "representative of only two potential billing scenarios for clients" and "[did] not take into account a number of key factors, including blended rates and rates negotiated with specific clients"). Associate salaries climbed as well, with an average median associate rate of $274.

With the economy in its current condition, looks like the golden goose has finally run out of eggs. But why did it take so long for firms to realize that this day would come? And would firms find themselves in a different situation today if they'd tried harder to accommodate clients by easing up on rate increases last year? Send your comments below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 8, 2008 at 03:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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