I’ve heard it said that London is the most expensive legal market in the world. I now believe it. My company needs to retain a law firm in London, so I sent inquiries to three very good firms there, explained the basic facts and asked for their rates. Of the three firms, here are the rates of the senior partners who would work on the matter.
The cheapest firm: US$885/hour
The middle firm: GBP equal to US$983/hour
The expensive one: GBP equal to US$1,180/hour
And I had thought US lawyers were expensive, at $350-650/hour. I don’t expect that will be relevant to any of you, but just thought you’d find it amazing. I did.
And I had thought US lawyers were expensive, at $350-650/hour. I don’t expect that will be relevant to any of you, but just thought you’d find it amazing. I did.[/quote]
I wonder how much of that hour the lawyers spend checking email, scratching their balls or going to the toilet.
Depends. We attorneys can think while scratching our balls (those of us who have them) and going to the toilet.
An attorney who charges such high rates can be expected to be an expert in his/her field, and also that he/she can handle the matter/provide advice in a relatively short time. A less experienced attorney may not bill at such a high rate, but, you can expect that such an attorney will spend considerably more time researching and responding and providing advice.
Many law firms, however, have minimum billing blocks of time. Some may bill for a minimum of 10 minutes, others for a minimum of 15 minutes. Thus, if reading your inquiry and responding to the same takes the attorney only 5 minutes, you will still be billed for at least 10 or 15 minutes.
More often than not, however, attorneys shave time (and thus fees) from their bills on a regular basis.
In regard to intent to hire a London attorney, may I ask the subject???[/quote]
Basic international dispute concerning sale of technology products, with common run-of-the-mill issues.
Incidentally, it’s not a patent infringement suit. Those are VERY costly too. While US lawyers have lower hourly rates (up to maybe $800/hour for an oustanding patent litigator), the cost of attorney fees in a routine US patent infringement suit runs from US$1.5M - $5M, or in very big cases substantially more.
I’m “career changing” as they say into being a UK lawyer. Rates just vary alot. Its an odd market - in some ways not a market at all - more of a cartel at the top. You can walk around Holborn (pretty much the legal centre in London) and see agencies advertising for paralegals at about US$50K a year - not a lot in my book… and some high street lawyers in the London area are earning little more than that after many years experience of commercial experience, albeit small scale.
On the other hand, “magic circle” firms will pay their trainees about that during their two years “on the job” training - and it will be roughly doubled on qualification. They work their socks off and probably make the firm much of its money. Retention is not so good, many are out after a few years. Hours are controlled an accounted for very carefully - including even toilet breaks.
Maybe the upcoming so-called “silver circle” firms offer a better deal - often they are smaller and more specialised. Or even consider a regional firm if there is no need to be in central London.
A barrister contact of mine struggles to find work - her husband is “supporting” her. She only has about 15 billable hours a week - and only charges the full whack for about half of those. The rest of the time she is researching, doing pro-bono and drumming up work. Why is her rate so high? Because there is so little work… so she feels she has to “try and make it back”. I could get into trouble for saying this… but this is exactly the same thinking as that of a group of girls “of ill repute” I know in Saigon. They have an idea about “how much they’re worth”. So if they go 2 or 3 weeks without work, the next hapless punter gets charged more - to compensate for the lack of demand. The same topsy-turvy economics - the rate goes up when there is not enough demand to meet supply.
Firms of solicitors are different from barristers of course… but the economics seem just as crazy.
I can’t see things getting much better unless some of the commercial practices adopted in other industries arrive in the legal profession… but not sure if they will and not sure if that’s what consumers want. As for my fellow students - most of whom are >10 years younger than me, they think they should be above such things. They’re a pretty arrogant bunch.
I haven’t got the body of a Saigon bar-girl, so its lawyering for me! :raspberry:
Alls I know is if someone were paying me US$1000 an hour for work, I’d be investing in a caffeine IV and a pallet of adult diapers.
But yeah, london-boy is correct about this. When you are doing consulting type work you often have to ask more to make up for the time you aren’t working. When I was doing computer consulting one way to address this would be to have a fairly high standard rate with 2 hour minimum billing per incident, then if they have a longer term project or they became a regular client we could knock the hourly rate by as much as half. So if I only got a few occasional short-term clients I’d still make enough for it to be worthwhile to me, while if I had clients with longer commitments then the number of hours billed would make up for having a lower hourly rate. I know some lawyers have similar billing schemes.
The economics doesn’t make a lot of sense from a strict supply/demand perspective, but if every supplier in the market is only selling for example half their possible production but still need to cover fixed costs, then they well could all demand higher rates. That could work if the supply was small enough even without any explicit agreement among the suppliers. If only a few suppliers are willing to lower their prices to get more sales, then those suppliers would quickly absorb part of the market. But if they are selling their time then there is only so much they can sell before they are fully booked, at which point the other suppliers will still get whatever business is left. Meanwhile on the other side, demand is probably inelastic enough that buyers are still willing to buy enough at the higher prices.
So what you would need is for the supply of those willing to work for lower rates to be large enough to overcome those who are only willing to work less at a higher price. With a profession like legal work, there are only so many who have made the capital investment (education) to be qualified to work in the field, so supply will change slowly enough that such a strange situation could stay in equilibrium for quite a while. The other possibility is for the supply to decrease or demand to increase at which point the higher price is justified. However, few suppliers are willing to stop production if the cost of doing so is loss of their capital investment. In this case the loss of capital investment would be the wasted time and money spent on education. Also with legal professionals near the top when it comes to earnings, any other profession they could switch to would earn them less. Or you could say that supply is relatively inelastic as well.
I know this is out dated now, but I had to chime in. Those guys/gals have no lives. Most of them die early. I much prefer spending my time on Forumosa on a Friday morning and weekends at the beach, and TM and Tigerman probably would agree with me, which I guess is partly why we are all here.
i know i do, which is why i never went to law school lol. doesn’t always have to be like that, my bro, while not a “high-powered” attorney has made partner in a smaller specialty firm, not rich but does well and has time for his family and own pursuits.
I disagree. Some lawyers may hate their jobs and their lives. Others may be very happy, satisfied and wealthy. Legal work can be very interesting. Big international corporate work can be very interesting. Such fields are not for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If one prefers putting in lesser hours, or dealing with less stress, or working in another field, that’s fine. No one career path is right or wrong for everyone.
There’s nothing wrong with teaching conversational english or kindergarten, or selling t-shirts in the nightmarket, or whatever, if one is satisfied. But some people get a rush out of working hard at seriously intellectually challenging legal and/or business matters, doing “big deals”, working in an environment of professionals who perform at a very high level, learning new things, improving ones skills, competing with adversaries and prevailing, working on other matters and achieving great win-win solutions, even if the job may require long hours and stress. Of course, the fact that it pays well is important, but I would imagine a large percentage of highly paid lawyers genuinely enjoy what they do.
Of course the same goes for the education required for such a career, whether it’s a JD, MBA, PhD, etc. If you hate the schooling then that’s a serious price to pay because it can be a lot of work. I know I had to work my ass of in law school. But I found the material fascinating, was exhilerated being surrounded by so many bright, ambitious people, and really enjoyed the experience. To each his own.
On the other hand, I hated my former career back in the States, performing small-town general litigation: representing lying, angry people suing other lying, angry people over petty grievances for small sums of money. But big international corporate work is another matter. I love my career here in Taiwan, as legal counsel for a tech company. Sure, I’d rather be lying on a beach somewhere or hiking through the forest. But I enjoy the challenges, the education, the chance to grow and become a more highly skilled professional working big, exciting cases. AND, I enjoy screwing around on forumosa and I don’t believe I’m any more likely to die young than you are, perhaps less likely. But of course I don’t earn anywhere close to what those London lawyers make.
On another note, in case anyone needs to retain legal counsel in the UK and doesn’t want to pay US$1,000/hour, I’ve found a solution: don’t hire a London lawyer. I’ve since consulted with various law firms in Birmingham and found there are many competent lawyers there who will work for 1/2 the price of London lawyers, or less.
I don’t know about English lawyers, but several American Bar Association surveys I’ve seen in the past (sorry, no citations, just memory ) show that greater than 50% of U.S. lawyers are unhappy with their careers. Of course, there are many reasons for this, some of which you described for yourself.
Sure, some lawyers might enjoy the “head rush” of their job and their work, especially at $1000 an hour. If they are lucky, they are so specialized at what they do that they can charge such high rates but not work so hard. The pressure to bill 2200+ hours a year isn’t on their heads anymore, since they are the partners. More likely, the pressures of being a partner and being pushed to bring in more money have replaced those of their greenhorn years.
Most lawyers I know that make big money only work. They can call it a life, but no, it’s not for me (or you, obviously).
Oh well, too bad for them. I like my work. If I didn’t I’d quit, as I’ve done in the past. In fact, I pity anyone who hates their job. Life’s too short for that. The way I see it, if you don’t like your job/spouse/living environment/etc then take active steps to change it. Otherwise don’t bitch about it as it’s your own decision to wallow in it.
Oh well, too bad for them. I like my work. If I didn’t I’d quit, as I’ve done in the past. In fact, I pity anyone who hates their job. Life’s too short for that. The way I see it, if you don’t like your job/spouse/living environment/etc then take active steps to change it. Otherwise don’t bitch about it as it’s your own decision to wallow in it.[/quote]
Is 50% really high? I mean, how would that compare with other careers that require an advanced degree? Quite a lot of doctors I know in the US don’t like practicing medicine and wish they hadn’t gone into it*. I know a good number of accountants who don’t like their jobs, either. I’m not so sure that lawyerin’ is much different from other professional fields. Maybe the difference between some lawyers and some doctors is that helping a food stamp drawing, neonlit Honda Civic driving crack ho get child support payments off the pimp father of her children doesn’t leave one with the same warm feeling inside as saving a life.