I’m guessing that a lot of law firm leaders are starting to think about hourly rates for 2009.  I know they’ve probably heard some rumblings about the economy.  Maybe they’ve noticed that their portfolios are worth about 40% less today than just a week ago.  Home values?  Same thing.  Hmmmmm.

So as these law firm leaders sit down with their favorite beverage in the evening, I’m sure they are wondering what to do about rates?  Tough decisions.. ..hmmmmm …..shall we raise rates by 7 or 8 per cent? 

Apocryphal?  I kid you not, I had this discussion.  On pain of death, I will not disclose the name or city of the firm, but the firm thinks there "is room" for the increase.  It will be a most interesting next few months as we find out whether firms will have the temerity to raise rates while their clients are suffering through generational economic displacement.  From a competititve standpoint, I hope firms do raise rates.  It only serves to make the Valorem approach look that much better.

On the other hand, part of me hopes that the profession takes a long and sober look at itself and sees the folly in the system, even if only for this year.  It is hard for outside lawyers to appreciate the pressure to squeeze costs that our in-house colleagues confront each day.  This could be the year when tolerance for that lack of understanding ends.

  • Good luck to those firms considering increasing rates! Our in-house counsel clients were already tearing their hair out regarding increases in rates without equivalent increase in value – and that was before the recent economic catastrophes.