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Magic Circle Partners' Rate Hits $1,375 an Hour + More News

Vivia Chen

December 3, 2013

Time for another edition of news and gossip you don't want to miss:

©-hammondovi_iStockphoto1. Attention, bargain hunters: Hire an American lawyer! Magic Circle partners' rates are up to £850 per hour, which is about US$1375.56. That represents an increase of 62 percent since 2005, according to The Lawyer.

My, my—that's a very high number. Cravath partners might be bargains in comparison. Who do those fancy Brits think they are—Ted Olson? (Remember, Olson's rate is reputedly $1,800 per hour. I've asked Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and the firm would neither deny nor confirm the figure.)

2. But the Brits don't make as much as the Yanks. This seems like a bit of a paradox: The partners at the top U.K. firms have high billing rates, but they're making substantially less than their American counterparts. From the ABA Blog:

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that PPP at top-10 law firms in the United Kingdom was a million pounds, on average, during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, according to Bloomberg and the Financial Times (reg. req.). That translates to about $1.6 million in U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate.

But at comparable top-10 law firms in the U.S., the average was nearly 30 percent higher.

So what accounts for this gap? Is the billing rate of the British partners all for show? Are they breaking too often for tea and not working that hard? "They tend not to bill the way we do," says an American lawyer. "It's a cultural thing. They don't like to bill for phone calls with clients, internal discussions about client matters."

That's charming, I guess.

Anyway, there's now another reason not to trot across the pond: The weather sucks, the food is bad, the cost of living is astronomical, and partners there don't rake in nearly the dough that American partners do.

3. A moment of hypocrisy: Why does John Edwards get to practice law again, but Stephen Glass is banned entry into the profession? You know about the transgressions of  presidential aspirant John Edwards (he lied about paternity, among other things). Stephen Glass, in case you don't remember, was a young reporter who was caught fabricating stories in the New Republic.

Glass paid his dues and has worked hard to redeem himself. For the last few years since he graduated from Georgetown Law School, he's been trying to convince the California Bar to allow him to get his law license. The bar rejected his bar application on moral character grounds in 2009. And recently, it did so again.

Wall Street Journal Law Blog writer Jacob Gershman poses a question that's worth considering—namely, is it fair that the profession treats bar applicants more harshly than practicing lawyers?  The answer is probably not. As NYU law professor Stephen Gillers tells WSJ: “It’s harder to get in than to get kicked out.”

So the moral lesson is: Behave yourself until you get admitted into the club.

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  E-mail  Vivia Chen: vchen@alm.com     Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lawcareerist


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Is it possible that the Brits pay everyone else in their offices (ie associates & staff) better so the partners don't take home as much money?
Wouldn't that be a novel concept.

:-)....Enjoy your day!!

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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