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"Churn that bill, baby!"
Those words, possibly spoken in jest, made a lot of in-house counselors shiver. After all, controlling the bills for outside counsel is one of your main duties. But, the bigger the case, the harder it is to keep track of escalating costs.
Are you being charged market rate? Are the bumps in compensation for associates assigned to the case legitimate, or are you being gouged?
Here's a Pricey Price Guide
How much do the biggest BigLaw firms charge? What about those outside of the AmLaw 200? And those pesky associates, do they really deserve the compensation bump?
It turns out that there is actually a pricing guide for law firm rates. Unfortunately, the guide costs $2,495 for a single copy, $7,485 for a site license, and $12,475 for an enterprise license. At that rate, it looks like you're getting gouged either way.
Trends From the Price Guide
Fortunately, there are a few nuggets of free information from Research and Markets' website and press release.
For one, the biggest of BigLaw can pretty much set their own rates. The AMLAW 1 to 100 are keeping their rates at a premium. As you move down to the 100 to 200 and Mid-to SmallLaw, that's where the discounts are kicking in. According to the pricing guide's summary, even though 2012 and 2013 were mild recovery years for the industry, these firms generally had rate declines.
As for those associates, they're still recovering from the bloodletting of 2008 to 2011, what the guide labels "compensation catch-up." Associates received little to no rate increases from 2008 to 2011, and, of course, there were mass layoffs. The last two years, however, associates at most firms received the highest rate increases overall.
The lesson? Clamp down on outside counsel's use of useless first-year associates.
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