When I started practicing law on my own, I set my billing rate at $400 per hour and have held it there since then. Not long after I started, a friend and colleague chastised me (gently), saying that my billing rate was significantly under the going rate for someone with a background like mine (and his).
Now I find that my billing rate is very much in the middle of the road for actual partner billing rates, as opposed to the “rack rates” that are often quoted in surveys. The ABA Journal reports that, according to a recent study,
In 2009, law firm partners charged up to $1,590 per hour for work for major corporate customers, but the median partner rate was $340 per hour. That means “rates billed by partners were much lower than the typical ‘rack’ rates reported by commissioned surveys,” the press release says.
Debra Cassens Weiss, Why Law Firms Are Like Hotels: ‘Rack Rates’ Are Negotiable, Real Rates Vary by Client, ABA Journal Business of Law, May 26, 2010 (emphasis added).