Billing rates for law firm attorneys jumped last year, with partners and associates raking in more dollars per hour than ever before. And at least one partner now charges $1,000, the first four-figure hourly rate reported to The National Law Journal.
This year, 116 law firms responded to questions about billing rates included as part of the NLJ’s 2005 survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms. (The survey is sent to about 300 firms, therefore some firms included in this survey are not among the NLJ 250.) Of those 116 responding firms, 102 also supplied answers to those questions in the 2004 survey.
The 2005 results indicate that most firms raised their rates for both partners and associates at both the high and low ends of their ranges.
Seventy-nine of the 102 firms that responded in both 2004 and 2005 raised their highest rates for partner this year, while 10 reduced theirs and 13 kept them the same. Seventy-six firms raised their lowest rates for partners, while 10 decreased them and 16 kept them the same.
As for associates, 82 firms raised their highest rates, 15 decreased them and five maintained them. Seventy-four raised their lowest rates, eight decreased them and 20 kept them the same.
At Venable, the partner high is up to $1,000. Just as remarkable, Dorsey & Whitney reported an associate high of $835 — more than most partners make.