As we noted in Morning Docket, there’s a new survey out about corporate America’s legal spending in 2013. As noted by Am Law Daily, the LegalView Index “is based on actual dollars paid by clients, not on surveys of law firms” — so perhaps it’s more reliable than many of the other studies.

What does the survey say? Here are some highlights:

1. Good news, bad news (from the law firm perspective): hours were down by 1.3 percent but fees were up by 1.6 percent last year.

2. It’s good to be in the middle: “Firms in the Am Law Second Hundred showed an overall gain of 25,278 hours, or roughly 3.1 percent. But losses by The Am Law 100 — down 66,617 hours, or 2.8 percent — and by firms outside The Am Law 200 — down 63,834 hours, or 1.3 percent — dwarfed that modest gain.”

3. But Biglaw is still, well, BIG: the 70 companies in the index spent 43 percent of their total legal spending with Am Law 100 firms, almost as much as they spent on the 3,000 firms outside the Am Law 200 (45.6 percent; the balance went to Am Law Second Hundred firms).

4. Prestige still commands a premium: the average hourly rate charged by Am Law 100 firms — blending partners, associates, of counsel, and paralegals — came to $473.12 (up 2.5 percent from 2012). For Am Law Second Hundred firms, the average was $346.69 (up 1.7 percent), and for non-Am Law 200 firms, the average was $233.70 (up 1 percent).

5. Top talent isn’t cheap: for firms in the top quartile of the Am Law 100 in terms of profits per partner, the average rate was a whopping $601.31 an hour. (Not that many years ago, $600 an hour was regarded as a top rate for partners.)

6. Which practice areas are prospering? General litigation is up, corporate work is down, and IP work is flat.

Interesting stuff. You can read more over at Am Law via the link below.

Billing Survey Shows Rates Ticking Up as Demand Dips [Am Law Daily via Morning Docket]


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