The “standard hourly rate” is ephemeral – same timekeeper often bills different rates to different clients

Preliminary findings from the 2010 Real Rate Report to be issued by CT TyMetrix in September disabuse us further of the notion that law firms maintain standard billing rates for individual timekeepers.

A handout at the SuperConference about the Report drew on more than $4 billion of bills and 3,448 timekeepers with multiple clients. The headline finding was that “seventy-eight percent of timekeepers bill different rates to different clients.” In some instances the differences were hundreds of dollars an hour.

Be not shocked. A rigid hourly rate for a lawyer – $425 an hour – regardless of the complexity of the services performed, the relationship with the client, the competitive realities, and the varied levels of experience of the lawyer makes no sense (See my post of May 1, 2006: signaling function of standard rates; Aug. 15, 2008: rack rates accounted for 20% of fees; March 5, 2009: de jure “standard hourly rates” but de facto “discount crazy quilt”; March 5, 2009: Serengeti data on “standard billing rates”; and March 20, 2009: six advantages of discounts off standard rates.).

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