Friday, August 24, 2007

$1,000 an Hour Billing Rate

The Wall Street Journal reports that biglaw firms in New York are breaking through the barrier of $1,000 an hour for their billables. David Boies, formerly of Cravath, is quoted as saying: "Frankly, it's a little hard to think about anyone who doesn't save lives being worth this much money." And an unnamed partner at an unnamed New York firm said: "We have viewed $1,000 an hour as a possible vomit point for clients." Some attorneys are so shy about charging this that they move their fees to either $950 or $1,050 an hour.

To English ears, and those in Hong Kong, this must sound terribly quaint--"Only a $1,000 an hour! An absolute steal, old boy." In sterling that's £500 per hour. It isn't unusual to find partners in the City charging at least that and usually more.

Some reckon one can make a $$/££ equivalence. What figure you pay in dollars in New York, you will pay in pounds in London. And certainly if you look at the top earning barristers in London--Sumption, Pollock, et al--you are seeing the £1,000 an hour billable breached regularly.

Of course, if this is all too much, hop on a plane to Poland. You may not have to pay more than 70 euros an hour if the Kaczynski twins have their way!


Wabisabi said...

Speaking as someone from HK, all I can say is that some feng-shui consultants/psychics/self-proclaimed wizards/confidence men have always charged more by the hour than Biglaw partners... Sometimes 2 or 3 times more.

John Flood said...

Actually, following on from you, compared to the way investment banks charge, for example, lawyers have always been cheap.