Wolters Kluwer Real Rate Report® Shows Law Firm Rates Rising at the Fastest Pace Since the 2008 Recession

27 March 2017

Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions has launched its 2016 Real Rate Report. The report contains new information that underscores recent trends in legal rates, confirming that overall rates continue to rise, with average year-over-year lawyer rate increases reaching their highest levels since 2008.  

The Real Rate Report, released jointly with CEB, is the legal industry’s leading publication that analyzes actual invoice data to provide benchmarks of law firm rates and uncover the drivers of the billable hour. Highlights of the report’s findings include:

  • Larger firms maintain pricing power as rates rise. Among over 350 factors tested, law firm size is the single largest driver of law firm rates.
  • Rates at the associate level are rising faster than at the partner level. The average year-over-year rate increase for associates was 7.3%, more than double the 3.6% rate increase for partners.
  • Invoices reveal insight into billing practices of law firms. The data shows trends, often differing by firm size, in Fractional Billing, Block Billng, Duplicate Billing, Rounding Hours and Heavy Billing.
  • First-year associate rates are flat. Despite the rise in overall associate rates, the average rate that a first-year associate billed has not changed. As a result, rate increases among more tenured associates are even higher than for associates overall.

“The Real Rate Report is a prime example of how data and benchmarking help both corporate legal departments and law firms gain insight into the factors that drive legal spend and value,” says Barry Ader, vice president, Product Management and Marketing, for Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions. “Corporate legal and insurance claims departments use this crucial information to gauge the value of outside counsel, benchmark performance, and more effectively negotiate rates. Law firms benefit by leveraging the report to understand market competition and demonstrate their relative value during negotiations.”

The annual Real Rate Report is powered by LegalVIEW®, the world's largest source of international legal performance information, containing over $82 billion in legal invoice data. The data in LegalVIEW is sourced from actual legal invoices, not surveys, which means that it provides the most accurate, reliable, and granular data for analysis and insights. Capturing all invoice data, down to individual billers and tasks, enables identification of legal rate trends as well as the specific factors that drive them.

“The key value of the Real Rate Report lies in the identification of what drives legal rates,” says Abbott Martin, legal research leader, CEB. “This report allows clients and law firms alike to understand how specific decisions about firm size, location, and attorney experience impact matter costs.”

The 2016 Real Rate Report is now available for purchase. Ranked one of the world’s largest legal service organizations with over 180 years of legal expertise, Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions leverages a deep understanding of customer needs to transform the Enterprise Legal Management experience and help corporate legal departments and insurance claims organizations make better business decisions.

Wolters Kluwer Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) is a division of Wolters Kluwer which provides legal, finance, risk and compliance professionals and small business owners with a broad spectrum of solutions, services and expertise needed to help manage myriad governance, risk and compliance needs in dynamic markets and regulatory environments. The division’s prominent brands include: AuthenticWeb™, Bankers Systems®, BizFilings®, Capital Changes, CASH Suite™, CT Corporation, CT Lien Solutions, ComplianceOne®, Corsearch, Expere®, GainsKeeper®, LegalVIEW®, OneSumX®, Passport®, TyMetrix® 360º, Uniform Forms™, VMP® Mortgage Solutions and Wiz®.

Wolters Kluwer N.V. (AEX: WKL) is a global leader in information services and solutions for professionals in the health, tax and accounting, risk and compliance, finance and legal sectors. Wolters Kluwer reported 2016 annual revenues of €4.3 billion. The company, headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands, serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries and employs 19,000 people worldwide.

CEB is a best practice insight and technology company. We help our customers grow by harnessing their untapped potential. Leaders at more than 10,000 organizations worldwide rely on our advisory services and technology solutions to manage their talent, customers and operations. CEB is a trusted partner to nearly 90% of the Fortune 500, more than 80% of the FTSE 100, and over 70% of the Dow Jones Asian Titans. 

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