Saturday, May 30, 2020
American Lawyer, Associate Hourly Billing Rates Surge Past $1K as Firms Snap Up Bankruptcy Work:
Signaling a new era, some Weil associates are now billing more than $1,000 per hour—a milestone that was surpassed only about a decade ago at the level of Big Law partners—making it one of the first firms to break that pricey barrier.
Weil said in the J.Crew [bankruptcy] filing that it had increased its standard billing rates in October 2019. Members and counsel are now billing from $1,100 to $1,695 at the firm; associates are billing $595 to $1,050; and paraprofessionals are billing between $250 and $435 per hour. ...
Weil isn’t the first firm whose associate rates have topped $1,000 per hour, and its rates aren’t even the highest. When Kirkland & Ellis signed on to represent Barney’s New York—one of last pre-pandemic retail bankruptcies—it said in a filing that associates’ rates reached $1,125 per hour. At Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, at least two associates working on the McClatchy newspaper company bankruptcy have also billed over $1,000 per hour.
Efforts to reign in ballooning law firm fees have received little traction in recent years, though creditors, shareholders and employees occasionally raise alarms.