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Why Aren't You Billing at $1,250 Per Hour?

By Jason Beahm | Last updated on

So what are you charging for a billable hour? No matter what your answer is, compared to the top rates, you might be selling yourself short. According to the Wall Street Journal, the following attorneys are all charging well above $1,000 an hour:

  • Kirk Radke of Kirkland & Ellis - $1,250 an hour.
  • Ian Taplin of Kirkland & Ellis - $1,220 an hour.
  • Gerhard Schmidt of Weil Gotshal & Manges, - $1,165 an hour.
  • Michelle Y.L. Gon of Baker McKenzie - $1,163 an hour.
  • Andrew Shutter of Cleary Gottlieb - $1,160 an hour.

The list when on and on, full of attorneys charging more than $1,000 an hour, which will buy you a lot of nachos. Bear in mind that these attorneys are considered some of the top minds in their specialties and their clients willingly pay their high billable hours.

"Not many attorneys can command four figures hourly, and I do have trouble swallowing that," said Thomas L. Sager, assistant general counsel at DuPont. But Sager added that a "select few," particularly for mergers-and-acquisitions advice are worth the cost, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Plenty of clients say to me, 'I don't have any problems with your rate,' " said William F. Nelson, a Washington-based tax partner at Bingham McCutchen. He charges $1,095 an hour for his counsel.

So where do we go from here? If $1,000 an hour no longer shocks people, how high can rates go for top attorneys? According to Peter Zeughauser a consultant to law firms, the days of $2,000 an hour are not far off, "A thousand dollars an hour was a choke point for some clients ... I don't think there will be another significant psychological barrier until rates reach $2,000 an hour, which they will do, probably in five to seven years."

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