Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

City High Wire Act as Partners Double Hourly Law Fees to [Pounds Sterling]700

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

City High Wire Act as Partners Double Hourly Law Fees to [Pounds Sterling]700

Article excerpt

Byline: JOSHUA ROZENBERG

TOP lawyers in the City of London are now charging as much as [pounds sterling]700 anhour, according to research carried out for The Lawyer magazine. Some partnersin national law firms have almost doubled their charge-out rates over the pastfour years to [pounds sterling]350 an hour, the paper adds.

If passing a few law exams could earn everyone [pounds sterling]35,000 a week or around [pounds sterling]1.5million a year, lawyering would be an extraordinarily attractive profession tobe in. But some caution is needed.

First, hourly rates are what the client pays, not what the lawyer earns. A firmhas to meet all its running costssuch as rent, salaries for support staff and tax from the fees it charges.

Secondly, the hourly rate of between [pounds sterling]625 and [pounds sterling]700 applies only to partners inso-called "magic circle" firms: the five practices of Allen & Overy, CliffordChance, Freshfields, Linklaters and Slaughter and May, the elite of the elite.Below partnership level, a lawyer with five years' post-qualificationexperience in one of these firms would charge [pounds sterling]375 to [pounds sterling]400 per hour.

In other London firms, partners are charging up to [pounds sterling]495 an hour and experiencedassociates [pounds sterling]315. Outside London, comparable figures for the big commercialfirms are [pounds sterling]375 and [pounds sterling]275.

The US-headquartered law firms charge less than the magic circle but more thantheir British-based rivals, with partners billing at up to [pounds sterling]500 an hour andassociates up to [pounds sterling]360.

None of these figures is likely to be entirely accurate, though. They have beencompiledin most cases for nearly 10 yearsby Jim Diamond, who runs a service called Legal Budgets from Jersey. Althoughhe claims to have "unprecedented contacts" in the biggest law firms in thecountry, he admits "it is still unbelievably difficult to get top firms to givewritten information on hourly rates"even though firms treat their financial results as a badge of honour. …

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