News last week about attorneys in New York charging more than $1,000 an hour came as no surprise to many lawyers. After all, most of us already charge in the lower five-figure range. While ridiculously lucrative (I’m actually writing this from Belize, a country I purchased last week), it does present serious billing challenges. For instance, how best do you represent your time when each minute is worth about $167.00? Instead of describing how I manage to do this successfully, here is one of my more recent bills, with sensitive client data removed. Click on it to enlarge.
As you can see, I charge a bit north of $10,000, and I carefully considered whether to increase it that extra $30, even seeking out client feedback. I finally decided that, with new ethical rules against nonrefundable retainers, an appropriate hourly rate such as $10,030 will allow me to earn any flat fee or retainer that much more quickly. Seems fair enough.
The lesson? Don’t be shy about a $10,030 hourly fee. Bill for it. If the client has hired you for your stated rate, they know what they are getting. In the invoice I provide here, I won the motion to compel and, because the other side was not substantially justified in withholding discovery, he had to pay my client’s fees. He’s now in bankruptcy and, I hear, has hired one of those cheap ass New York attorneys who charge only four figures per hour. Sucker.