Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Top 10 Lawyer Hourly Rates by City

lawyer wagesDespite persistent rumors of its demise, hourly billing remains – by far – the most popular fee method for attorneys.

And in some parts of the country – most notably Texas and New York – hourly rates are skyrocketing.

Meanwhile, flat fees continue to be the norm in traffic, immigration and criminal cases.

Those are some of the takeaways from the 2017 Legal Trends Report, which surveyed more than 1 million cases reported by 60,000 users of Clio software.

“Despite growing discussions on flat fees and other value-based billing structures in the legal profession, one of the most important insights to glean from Clio’s user data is that the billable hour is still by far the most common method for tracking work and billing clients,” according to the report, which you can download here. “When we look at historical data over the past several years, we also see the proportion of hourly fees (about 81–86 percent) billed compared to flat fees has remained virtually unchanged.”

Where Flat Fees Are Dominant

Here are the practice areas in which respondents said they use flat fees:

  • Traffic (90 percent)
  • Immigration (72 percent)
  • Criminal (59 percent)
  • Elder Law (30 percent)
  • Bankruptcy (29 percent)
  • Wills and Estates (25 percent)

Case Value by Practice Area

Here are the median fees according to the type of case:

  • Administrative $813
  • Bankruptcy $1,200
  • Collections $450
  • Contracts $600
  • Corporate $800
  • Criminal $750
  • Elder Law $788
  • Family Law $1,538
  • Immigration $950
  • Juvenile $538
  • Real Estate $535
  • Small Claims $478
  • Traffic $300
  • Wills & Estates $750

Top 10 Hourly Rates By City

Don’t mess with Texas when it comes to hourly rates. Law firms in the Longhorn State – mostly big firms that represent corporations – are hiking their rates as much as 10 percent, with dozens of firms smashing the $1,000 per hour threshold.

“Scores of Texas lawyers now charge $1,000 or more per hour for their legal services,” reports the Houston Chronicle. “Another 200 business attorneys in the state are likely to cross the $1,000-an-hour threshold over the next three years. Businesses across Texas received letters during the past few weeks from the law firms that represent them delivering news of the higher rates.”

Nationally, rates are rising as well. Here are the Top 10 average rates by city:

  1. New York City $344
  2. Los Angeles $324
  3. Chicago $312
  4. Miami $310
  5. Washington DC $304
  6. Dallas $300
  7. Atlanta $293
  8. Boston $278
  9. Houston $276
  10. Philadelphia $245

And here is a breakdown of individual lawyer rates by practice area:

  • Immigration $340
  • Intellectual Property $318
  • Tax $308
  • Real Estate $304
  • Trusts $301
  • Insurance $186
  • Mediation and Arbitration $162
  • Workers’ Compensation $150
  • Medical Malpractice $149
  • Juvenile $86

It bears repeating that these results are from a national survey of Clio users. How do these findings correspond to your personal experience?



About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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