In a report published by D.C. consulting firm Valeo Partners, associate billing rates appear to be on the rise for all classes and levels of experience. This report was based on data of year-to-year change from 2011-2012 for more than 550 law firms across the country. The findings confirmed that hourly billing rates for associates increased by an average of 7.5%, which is more than double the increases for both partners (3.6%) and counsels (3.4%).
New York serves as a good case study, as rate changes were similar (percentage-wise) to the rest of the country. According to a corresponding JD Journal article, “the increase in the hourly rates is the highest in the past couple of years. New York associate rates rose by 8% on average from $512 to $551, while both partner rates and counsel rates rose by a more typical 3 and 4%, to $893 and $725 respectively.
The article also contained an interview with Chuck Chandler, head of legal consulting for Valeo. When asked what might have been the cause, Chandler indicated that most law firms deferred their 2008 associate rate increases following the recession, so the increases were both an aim to catch up and a retention strategy.