Top Lawyer Fees Just Cracked a Crazy Milestone

$1.5K an hour and up—inflation is low, demand is weak, but people are still paying
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2016 9:00 AM CST
Top Lawyer Fees Just Cracked a Crazy Milestone
Top legal representation doesn't come cheap.   (Shutterstock)

Better start digging for more than change in those couch cushions if you're looking for legal representation. According to Citi Private Bank's Law Firm Group, large corporate law firms have upped their rates by 3% to 4% every year since the Great Recession, with at least one New York firm now breaking the $1,500-an-hour mark and quite a few others hovering in the $1,400s, the Wall Street Journal reports. This slow but steady rate climb is taking place despite low inflation and anemic demand for legal services.

"If you think of the rules of supply and demand, how in the world can they keep raising their rates?" one critic says. But law firms say they need to increase their intake to stay competitive with cheaper legal-service providers and in-house corporate lawyers, and to keep pace with rising fixed costs like salaries. "Lots of law firms will charge whatever the market can bear," the head of one such law firm tells the Journal, which adds that the most elite lawyers can command nearly $2,000 an hour. (A Washington Post columnist argues for cheaper lawyers.)

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