By Brian Lovelace
With outsized billing rates making even mainstream news reports—a Kirkland & Ellis partner’s $1,745 hourly rate in the Toys R Us bankruptcy recently caught the attention of The New York Times—there’s no question clients are watching the numbers closely.
But are they balking? It depends who you ask.
Jeffrey Lowe, managing partner of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s D.C. office, said the strong economy in 2017 “absolutely” emboldened firms to raise billing rates, but the rate of billing growth isn’t quite back to its pre-recession levels.
Lowe said the recession shifted how clients view their role in determining rates, and many clients have become more sensitive. A vast majority of cases involve a discussion of what the rates are going to be, Lowe said, leading to firms deciding to set artificially high rack rates.
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