Billing rates going up

December 2, 2009
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Clients are going to have to pony up a little more cash next year for their lawyers. According to an Altman Weil survey on 2010 billing rates, only about 10 percent of firms surveyed plan to maintain their current billing rates or decrease rates. The average rate increase is projected to be about 3.2 percent.

Many of the firms said they felt pressure from clients to not raise rates, but felt it was necessary because they froze rates in the past few years. Some also said the move toward alternative fee arrangements makes the hourly rate increases “increasingly irrelevant.” A few firms noted the increases they’ll make aren’t nearly as much as they had in previous years.

Some firms will pass along the higher rates only to new clients or in certain practice areas. Associate billing rates will be the mostly likely to see the increase, and a higher rate increase to boot.

“Many firms feel the need to cover their associate costs with rate increases,” said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay. “And because associate rates are lower, increases there may attract less comment from clients than increases at the partner level.”

The AW survey includes comment from respondents regarding why they are or aren’t raising rates. Some interesting ones:

- “Firms need to push back on the clients' unreasonable demands to hold rates at 2008 levels and give a 15% discount off of those rates.”

- “We froze our rates moving from 2008 into 2009. I hear managing partners speaking of freezing rates moving into 2010. We can't sit out two years without changing, so we are going to do so, hoping that client goodwill from last year will cushion us at this year's hike.”

- “We don't even try to raise rates every year. The greedy SOBs that do have antagonized the entire industry to those of us who only seek to raise rates when economically necessary (and PPP isn't economic necessity).”

What’s your firm’s strategy in terms of billing rates for next year? Is increasing rates a better alternative than cutting attorneys for firms looking to find more cash?
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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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