Partners and Senior Counsel Are Billing an Average of $661 Per Hour

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 14, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting...

Okay. Let's rephrase. The rich are getting richer off of themselves and the poor. At least in BigLaw, where partners and senior counsel are raking in an average of $661 per billable hour.

It's an abysmal rate when compared to the industry's heavy hitters, but it's up $22 from 2010. That's worth a cocktail or two, no?

As for associates, they're worth an average of $445 an hour, according to Daily Report. Though the rate only represents a $6 increase from 2010, it demonstrates that alternative fee arrangements and the recession are not stopping the crawl towards higher fees.

Now only if salaries and bonuses would reflect these increases.

The publication culled the data from Chapter 11 filings in five U.S. bankruptcy courts, so there may be some methodological inconsistencies. Attorneys must legally attest to their hourly billing rates, and only 6,000 attestations were collected. Most of the rates came from Georgia, New York and Delaware, and they only reflect individuals who work in bankruptcy.

Just within this data, there are signs that not all partners are bringing in the big bucks. Though Atlanta has some top billers -- $825 for two partners at Alston & Bird -- partners are only billing an average of $462 an hour. That's down from $484 in 2010.

Management at White & Case also recently announced a crackdown on underperforming partners. The firm has increased the number of billable hours partners must put in, hoping to ramp up business and fees. 

So while $661 seems high, things are probably not as good as the number makes it seem.

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