US law firms hike hourly client fees

A survey of US law firms has shown that, for the first time in 25 years, the hourly billing rate has risen across all sections of the profession.

While the average US billing rate still falls far behind the sums charged by the New York giants, it has gone past the average rate of £125 an hour for the first time, with a rise of 6 per cent for partners.

The survey, conducted by US legal consultants AWP, also shows that partners of 10 years bring in the greatest number of billed hours, at an average of 1,879 hours, or just under seven hours per working day.

Those with less than 10 years' partner experience bill just below that level, with an average of 1,858 hours.

But trailing behind, at only 1,507 hours a year, are those who have been partners for between 30 and 35 years.

Unsurprisingly, partners from the smaller firms charge less than the larger firms, with partners from firms with nine lawyers charging an average of £113 an hour, while firms with between 40 and 74 charge between £128 and £154 per hour.

Top British firms charge from around £300 upwards.