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What are the Going Law Firm Rates by Practice Area?

What are the Going Rates by Law Practice Area

What rates can corporate counsel expect to spend for outside counsel by practice area?  The chart nearby, while complex at first glance, encompasses an enormous amount of data with an at-a-glance view of what the going rates are for legal services by practice area in United States.

The data stems from our latest trends report which was released this past Tuesday by the CounselLink team. The data contained is through the year-end of 2013 and includes some $15 billion in total spending.

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How to Interpret the Chart

The full report contains this guide for interpreting the chart:

The chart captures median rates for three different groups of timekeepers (partners, associates and paralegals) and the range of the blended average rate across multiple matter types. As a guide to interpreting the output, consider IP-Trademark compared to Mergers and Acquisitions. These two categories have the highest median rates for Partners – $500 and $440, respectively – but IP-Trademark work requires significantly less partner time. The result is a noticeably lower blended median rate for IP-Trademark work versus the same rate for Mergers and Acquisitions.

Volatility of rates:

An additional metric provided in this section is the Volatility Index – a calculated marker indicating the variability encountered in blended matter rates. Using a 10-point scale, the Index reflects how broad the spread is between the 25th and 75th percentiles of hourly rates. High volatility scores indicate greater variance in prices paid based on the mix of timekeepers and individual hourly rates

Example of Interpretation

If we look at the first example, the M&A practice we can see the total blended fee rate ranges from just under $200 per hour to about $650 for a partner. The colored hash marks – green for partner, purple for associate and blue for paralegal – provides the media rate per hour at those respective levels.

For example, the green hash mark under M&A indicated the median partner rate is just shy of $450 per hour. Overall, rates in this practice are have a volatility of 6 on a 10 point scale, where 1 has the least volatility (see insurance for example) and 10 is most volatile.

The chart provides a useful benchmark for comparing rates and the complete report is contains several other benchmark metrics for looking at legal spend across the US.

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.


  1. […] metrics you can also pull it from court fee requests available on PACER or you can buy data about average hourly rates by city by type of work from several sources.  With that background, here are some […]