The client always has more leverage but certainly, for the high-end work, the firm is calling the shots.

Kent Zimmermann, a consultant with Zeughauser Group, commenting on the premium hourly fees charged by Biglaw attorneys in sought-after practice areas like mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and securities, white-collar defense, and litigation.

(That’s interesting, but what were the highest and lowest rates for partners and associates in 2012? We’ve got that info, and more, after the jump.)

According to the National Law Journal’s 2012 Law Firm Billing Survey, based on a sampling of 55 of the nation’s largest law firms by headcount, the highest partner billing rate in 2012 — a hefty $1,285 — was charged by a real estate investment trust partner in Locke Lord’s Dallas office. The lowest partner billing rate, $180, comes from Dinsmore & Shohl’s Cincinnati office. Talk about bargain basement prices!

As for associates, the highest hourly billing rate, $760, comes to us from DLA Piper’s New York office. The lowest associate billing rate in 2012, $130, once again is from Dinsmore’s Cincinnati office. Apparently they don’t make it rain at Dinsmore; instead, they make it hail, because it seems they get paid in chump change.

The ABA Journal sums up the rest of the NLJ’s findings:

The median hourly billing rate firmwide is $425 this year, compared to $420 last year. When the survey breaks out information only from firms that took part in the survey both in 2011 and 2012, the firmwide median is $432, compared to $410 last year.

The median hourly billing rate for partners this year is $501, while the median for associates is $317.

And now, for some real legal fee voyeurism, we’ve compiled a list of the highest and lowest billing rates for both partners and associates of ten of the largest firms in the NLJ 350 (in descending order by headcount):

Where do you fall in comparison? Feel free to discuss your rate’s prestige or lack thereof in the comments.

The 2012 Law Firm Billing Survey [National Law Journal]
The best still charge the most [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
Highest Partner Billing Rate in New Survey Is $1,285 an Hour [ABA Journal]


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