The Disparity in Attorney Fees
The Wall Street Journal, perhaps reflecting the concerns of its corporate readership, continues to emphasize what it considers to be the overpaid lawyers at the pinnacle of the profession. In a recent article that had the less-than-subtle title, "Biggest Lawyers Grab Fee Bounty," the Journal reported that partners in the top 25% of more than 4,000 law firms examined in a new study boosted their average price to $873 an hour last year, up 4.9% from 2010. At the same time, the lowest-billing partners struggled to keep pace with inflation. Partners in the bottom 25% of surveyed firms charged an average of $204 last year, up just 1.3%. As the paper said, "That disparity between who can raise prices - and who can't - spotlights a growing segmentation in the $100 billion corporate legal market."
Large Firm vs. Smaller Firm Fees
Such segmentation, of course, is nothing new. Although lawyers who bill $1,000 an hour and more at the largest corporate firms is a recent phenomenon, the biggest Wall Street firms have always been at the top of the heap economically. The individual and smaller business clients that are the focus for most of the legal profession simply cannot pay such rates, and the kind of work that they bring to their lawyers does not justify them.
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