Quite a few posts here tell something about typical charge-out rates of outside counsel (See my post of April 8, 2005: compare billing rates of your key firms to peer firms; Sept. 5, 2005: European law departments at about $220 an hour; Sept. 10, 2005: rates of top three firms; Jan. 16, 2006: some billing rate comparisons; Dec. 11, 2007: UK partner rates; Dec. 31, 2006: cost of living and partner rates; Feb. 21, 2008: a UK figure of about $151 an hour; Nov. 16, 2008: quartile rates for firms; and Jan. 16, 2009: possible gap of 30% between inside and outside costs per hour.).
More specifically, a series of posts have offered typical rates paid for US firms at intervals over several years (See my post of July 30, 2005: data on US partner and associate rates; 65 percent of partners bill between $235 and $474 per hour; Nov. 16, 2005: $190 an hour; Aug. 14, 2006: estimate of $270 an hour for effective rate; Sept. 25, 2006: average of $185 an hour according to survey; and Feb. 23, 2008: median rate of $225 an hour.).
The series of figures hardly allows a confident extrapolation, but a possible figure for 2009 looks to be in the range of $250-$280 an hour.