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Five highest paid practice areas, according to 2011 compensation study, and their fully loaded cost

A recent survey provided InsideCounsel with average total cash compensation for the five practice areas at the top. They were M&A ($288,962), Antitrust ($280,441), International ($257,097), Intellectual Property – Licensing ($252,948), and Tax ($250,209). These figures came from a data set that includes a fairly high proportion of large law departments, so the figures are likely to be higher than prevails across the board in the United States.

For the highest paid lawyers, by the way, M&A cash compensation works out to be $160 an hour, assuming 1,800 chargeable hours. For Tax, it is $140 an hour. If you add in some value for equity awards and a fairly standard 25% overhead, then it is easy to see reaching and breaching $225 an hour for these corporate lawyers.