Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wall Street Lawyers Now Billing $1250 an Hour

This is what it has come to, the top Wall Street lawyers are now billing at more than $1000 an hour, some as much as $1250 an hour. At that rate, $20 buys you a minute, $50,000 buys you a week, and $2.5 million buys you a year.

Only the top partners get that rate."The underlying principle is if you can get it, get it," is how the Wall Street Journal quotes a bankruptcy partner at New York law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Now don't go killing all the lawyers over these high rates. The average big law firm partner is lucky to charge half that. And the funny thing is that the WSJ says these big law firms pay their top stars as much as $4 million a year, more than that star would take in billings. The idea is to lose a little on the top partners, and make it up in volume on the young associates lawyers.

And $4 million a year is not even great money on Wall Street where hedge fund managers and CEOs can earn hundreds of millions or even billions a year. To earn the really big money, lawyers have to leave the law firm pond and get in the big game. It's easy to envy lawyers, but they are still small fish.

Perhaps we should thank all those well paid lawyers for supporting our way of life. And not for defending our system of laws, they do that for their clients not for us. I mean for paying the taxes that support our government. Studies indicate the top 5% of taxpayers in the U.S. pay more than 50% of taxes. With more than 1 million lawyers in the United States, they undoubtedly make up a very large portion of that 5%.

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