Yes, it is expensive to have junior lawyers doing your work at $5 a minute and partners clocking at $10 a minute and higher. But have billing rates and the magnitude of legal risks companies face risen proportionately?
Any answer to this question founders on our inability to assess legal risk, both its likelihood and its consequences. Intertwined with that Gordian knot is the imprecision of legal complexity. I have addressed both risk and complexity (See my post of Nov.15, 2005: legal risk with 7 references.); March 13, 2007: complexity with 4 references.); and March 23, 2008: risk management with 18 references.)
Legal costs (aka billing rates) that are proportionate to legal risks and complexity should not offend us. If more is at stake, we should expect to put more on the table.