Billing rates see small increase

December 8, 2010
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The National Law Journal’s 2010 Law Firm Billing Survey is out and it shows that firms are still increasing their billing rates, but not as much as in years past.

The average firm-wide billing rate went up by 2.7 percent this year, the second year in a row that rate increases grew by less than three percent. Firms used to increase their billing rates as much as eight percent when the economy was better in the mid-2000s.

Of those firms responding to the survey, 75 percent increased their rates this year; eight percent left their rates the same; and 17 percent lowered their average billing rates.

The survey was sent to the 250 largest law firms in the nation. Three Indianapolis-based firms made the NLJ’s 250 largest law firms list – Baker & Daniels at 152, Barnes & Thornburg at 85, and Ice Miller at 181 – but only Barnes & Thornburg listed its rates.

Barnes reports it has 494 attorneys in its 11 offices around the country with the average firm-wide hourly billing rate of $367; its median rate is $375.

The three firms did provide some information on how they bill rates. They all report they have discounted and blended variations on the billable hour. As alternative billing methods, Baker & Daniels cites hybrid, retrospective, fixed or flat, and contingent; Barnes and Ice both list hybrid, fixed or flat, and contingent.

Cincinnati-based law firms Frost Brown Todd, which merged with Locke Reynolds in early 2009; and Taft Stettinius & Hollister, which merged with Sommer Barnard in May 2008, also participated in the survey. Frost Brown Todd lists 404 attorneys and an average firm-wide billing rate of $279. Its median rate is $280. It reports that 76 percent of its revenue is generated through variations on the billable hour, which are discounted, blended, or “other.” The firm doesn’t have alternatives to the billable hour.

Taft reports 286 attorneys and its average and median firm-wide billing rates to both be $315. It says 40 percent of its revenue is through discounts on the billable hour. Taft reports 20 percent of the firm’s revenue is obtained through alternative billing methods: hybrid, fixed or flat, and contingent.

Frost is ranked 111 on the NLJ’s 250 largest law firms list; Taft is on the list at 149.
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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