A no-increase-in-rates mandate for law firms does not have to be limited to the choice of whether the freeze is for one year or two. Many variations and combinations of the following ideas are conceivable.
- If any lawyer works more than 500 hours for a company, the firm can raise that lawyer’s rates;
- Only partners may raise their rates, or only senior associates – sometimes thought to be the best bargain among the various classes of timekeepers;
- Increases may not exceed three percent or the rise in the Consumer Price Index;
- The firm can only increase rates if it handles a certain amount of matters or fees or if it achieves a certain evaluation rating;
- Only if a lawyer is promoted to partner;
- Only non-core lawyers have their rates frozen; or
- Some relation between volume billing tiers achieved and rate freezes.
Many mixtures and adjustments to these ideas are possible (See my post of Feb. 9, 2009: rate freezes with 8 references.).